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Jury Finds Ex-NY Senate Leader Dean Skelos, Son Guilty In Federal Corruption Trial

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Former state Senate leader Dean Skelos and his son were convicted Friday on all charges stemming from a federal corruption case.

The jury's decision came down just one day after deliberations had begun.

Skelos and his son, Adam, were found guilty Friday of eight counts of bribery, extortion and conspiracy.

The disgraced former state senator and his son stood shoulder to shoulder outside court after the verdict was read, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

"We are obviously very disappointed with the verdict," said defense attorney Robert Gage. "The next step is post-trial motions, and we intend to pursue them vigorously."

Prosecutors said Dean and Adam Skelos ran a "straight up shakedown."

"The swift convictions of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos beg an important question -- how many prosecutions will it take before Albany gives the people of New York the honest government they deserve?" said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara following the convictions.

"There can be no tolerance for those who use, and seek to use, public service for private gain," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. "The justice system worked today. However, more must be done and will be pursued as part of my legislative agenda. The convictions of former Speaker Silver and former Majority Leader Skelos should be a wakeup call for the Legislature and it must stop standing in the way of needed reforms."

Current Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said he was "deeply saddened" by the verdict.

"As Senate Majority Leader, I take this situation very seriously and am determined to work with my fellow legislators to swiftly and completely restore the public trust," Flanagan said in a statement.

The once-powerful Republican from Long Island was accused of using his office to extort about $300,000 in salary and other benefits for his son. Prosecutors also alleged Skelos accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from developers in exchange for political favors.

Prosecutors said the tapes were proof the pair schemed behind the scenes to pressure three companies – medical malpractice insurer Physicians' Reciprocal Insurers, developer Glenwood Management, and environmental tech firm AbTech Industries -- into agreeing to employ Adam Skelos.

There was a mysterious $20,000 commission paid to Adam Skelos, and a $70,000 no-show job. Prosecutors further portrayed Adam Skelos as an arrogant hothead.

The evidence at trial included wiretapped phone calls in which the senator told his son to be careful that people don't find out about the benefits he was receiving, 1010 WINS' Roger Stern reported. In one, Dean Skelos slammed Cuomo's leadership.

"You watch what I'm going to do in the next couple of years with him -- especially starting this year," Skelos said. "No more buddy-buddy and all that stuff. He's full of s**t. He's full of s**t," Skelos said in the call.

But the defense claimed prosecution witnesses shaded their testimony in exchange for immunity, and insisted the businesses helped Adam Skelos win goodwill with his father – with no quid pro quo.

"That's how the world works… (Adam Skelos') ego and temper are not evidence of wrongdoing," the defense said.

But in the end, all eight women and four men on the jury needed just eight hours to convict the duo on all charges.

"The state gave a great timeline for us. They did a very good job," jury foreperson Cynthia Nehlsen told CBS2 exclusively.

The defense further argued that Skelos was merely a loving father eager to take care of his only child, not a politician on the take.

As the verdict came down, Dean Skelos' name was removed from his office in Albany, CBS2's Steve Langford reported. In his district in Rockville Centre, the sports complex dedicated to Skelos still bears his name, for now.

Rockville Centre residents betrayed no pleasure in news of the conviction.

"I'm very sorry to hear that," one resident said.

"No opinion," another said.

"He's a great guy for Rockville Centre, but you know, got caught up in something that I don't know," a third said.

Skelos, 67, was one of the "three amigos," or "three men in a room," who ruled over Albany – along with Cuomo and former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – who himself was also convicted of corruption in a separate case late last month.

The trio controlled all legislation in Albany. But last May, Skelos was hit with the extortion and bribery charges.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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