New York: A once-powerful New York politician convicted of using his position as Senate majority leader to pressure companies to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars for his son was sentenced today to five years in prison by a judge who decried the "immeasurable damage" they had caused.
The sentence for Dean Skelos, announced with a flurry of criticism by US District Judge Kimba Wood, brought an end to the latest in a spate of corruption cases that have roiled Albany. His son, Adam, was sentenced to 6-and-a-half years in prison. Both were convicted last year of extortion, conspiracy and bribery.
The sentences were significantly lower than prosecutors had asked for, and the judge noted that the dollar value in the case "pales in comparison" to that of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was sentenced this month to 12 years in prison in his USD 5 million bribery case.
But Wood told Skelos: "The effect of your crime has much in common with him." She calculated the total dollar amount loss of his crime at USD 680,120, and she fined him USD 500,000. She also ordered him to forfeit over USD 300,000. "You have caused immeasurable damage to New Yorkers' confidence in the integrity of government," she said.
The judge said the 68-year-old Skelos "repeatedly threatened and pressured" big companies to help his son, portraying him as destitute even while he was earning well over USD 200,000 annually.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said there was no precedent for the "nearly simultaneous convictions of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos."
The dynamics of their father-son relationship took center stage at the sentencing hearing as both urged the judge to be lenient on the other.
Wood interrupted attorney G. Robert Gage as he spoke on behalf of the Long Island Republican to ask why the father did not reach out to his many friends to help find his son a job rather than use his position to extort companies.
"I wish I could answer that question," Gage said. "I certainly wish it had not happened."
Dean Skelos told the judge that the convictions had destroyed his reputation.
"It is heartbreaking to stand before you," he said. "Somewhere along the way my judgment became clouded."