Dean G. Skelos, New York State Senate Majority leader, and his son Adam are expected to be arrested on federal corruption charges next week, according to sources. The news of the arrest was reported Friday in the New York Times. The arrest could come as early as Monday.
The news come just three months after Democratic Majority speaker Sheldon Silver, fellow assembly member to Skelos stepped down after being charged with corruption and subsequently arrested. Sheldon is being accused of extorting money from political donors. Skelos has been under investigation for allegedly using his influence in Nassau County, Long Island to obtain a job for his son at AbTech Industries, a water treatment firm based in Arizona. AbTech Industries has ties to Glenwood Management, a real estate firm in New York which is under control by Leonard Litwin, a major donor to lawmakers in both parties.
When Skelos 67 and his son are charged, it is unknown if he will resign his leadership position right away. Skelos, a Republican was elected to the Senate in 1984. He has led the Senate Republican conference since 2008. He is one of four of his peers to have legal troubles, all of them held leadership positions in the Senate, three Democrats and one Republican have been the object of federal indictments. One is awaiting trial, two were convicted, but one was later acquitted on appeal.
Federal authorities have been trying to determine if Senator Skelos had any influence in contacts involving AbTech. Prosecutors have focused on a contract with the firm that was awarded by Skelos’ own backyard Nassau County, even though AbTech’s bid was not the lowest. The firm also hired Adam Skelos 32, as a consultant. Investigators have been reviewing if the hiring was in exchange for the senator to takes official action that would benefit AbTech or another company, Glenwood Management, an influential real estate developer with ties to AbTech.
Prosecutors overseeing the investigation, are from the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. They have been presenting evidence to a grand jury for several weeks, according to some sources. G. Robert Gage a lawyer for Senator Skelos, met with prosecutors on April 24. A spokesman with the prosecutors offices, Mr, Gage, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who worked on the investigation with investigators from the United States attorney’s office, all declined to comment.
If Skelos does step down right away and not follow in Silver’s footstep, who took more than a week to step down after his arrest, there is no clear replacement. Senator Thomas W. Libous, the second highest-ranking Republican in the chamber, could potentially be the leading candidate to take over, but he is also under federal indictment, and seriously ill with cancer. Mr. Libous, who represents the Binghamton area, has been accused of lying to federal agents during a corruption investigation. He was being questioned about a job his son Mathew Libous received from a tax firm. His son was recently convicted of federal tax fraud charges.
With charges being filed against Skelos and his son, waves will be sent through New York, effecting even the Capitol in Albany, with possible inaction on issues that have not been resolved in the budget. It has already slowed things down with only five bills being taken up in the Senate by senators on Tuesday. Normally they would take up 20 or more bills at this time of year.
By Jessica Hamel
Photo by Jim Bowen-Creativecommons Flickr License