Dean Skelos' corruption conviction overturned

Dean Skelos

Dean Skelos' corruption conviction overturned

Former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ 2015 corruption conviction overturned
September 26, 2017

A federal appeals court has overturned the 2015 corruption conviction of former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, the second in a pair of high profile convictions of state legislative leaders overturned due to a narrowing legal framework of what constitutes corruption for elected officials.

Skelos was once among the most powerful people in the state of New York, leading the state Senate’s Republican majority. But he and his son Adam were arrested in May 2015 on extortion, fraud and bribery charges. The Skeloses were convicted that December, with federal prosecutors arguing that elder Skelos used his public office to get his son jobs with companies that had business before the state.

Skelos’s 2015 conviction came just weeks after his fellow Albany power broker, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, was convicted on similar corruption charges.

RELATED: What Sheldon Silver's case means for Dean Skelos

Now Skelos is following Silver once again, with both men having their convictions overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The ruling for Skelos – which was widely expected after Silver’s conviction was overturned in July – hinged on the judges’ interpretation of a pivotal U.S. Supreme Court ruling, McDonnell v. United States. The panel of three judges found that the jury instruction given in the Skelos case was no longer proper, given the narrowing definition of an “official act,” as the basis for corruption charges.

The appeals court vacated the original ruling but did not reverse it, meaning that Skelos could be retried.

Federal prosecutors for the Southern District of New York plan to retry Silver’s case, and now, it seems, they will do the same with Skelos.

“While we are disappointed in the decision and will weigh our appellate options, we look forward to a prompt retrial where we will have another opportunity to present the overwhelming evidence of Dean Skelos and Adam Skelos’s guilty and again to give the public the justice it deserves,” acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Joon Kim said in a statement Tuesday morning.

Though Skelos was sentenced to five years in prison for the crimes, he has been allowed to stay out of custody while the case was being appealed.

Jeff Coltin
is a senior reporter at City & State. He covers New York City Hall.