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Senate Leader, Son Found Guilty In Case Involving Westchester Law Firm

 Dean Skelos is the second major New York power broker to be found guilty of corruption.
Dean Skelos is the second major New York power broker to be found guilty of corruption. Photo Credit: File photo

This story has been updated.

After only two days of deliberation, a Manhattan Federal Court found New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam guilty of corruption charges, according to reports.

Skelos was found guilty of illegally approving a contract for a Scarsdale firm for which his son had been employed.

Skelos and his son were found guilty of using the senator’s power for jobs, fees and benefits.

Said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara: “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?”

"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."

Skelos is the second major New York power broker to be found guilty of corruption. A federal corruption court in Manhattan found former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver guilty of all charges on Nov. 30.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who challenged Cuomo in the 2014 gubernatorial election, was also quick to react to the news and implied Cuomo may wind up becoming implicated in the widespread corruption in Albany.

"The convictions of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos are proof positive of the need for fundamental ethics reforms in Albany, including and especially state term limits," Astorino said in a statement. "The complex webs of relationships in Albany that grow deeper with every passing year in office time and again prove true the adage 'absolute power corrupts absolutely.'

"I continue to wonder, as I did aloud in my campaign last year, how much of this Gov. Cuomo knew when he shut down the Moreland Commission. I have every confidence that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara will answer that question in time."

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Yonkers said the conviction signals the need to "fundamentally reform how Albany functions."

"The time has come for the Republican Majority to finally join with the Senate Democrats and pass the ethics bills we have introduced and supported for years," Stewart said. "We need to implement a full-time Legislature and restrict legislators’ outside income; we need to close the LLC loophole; we need to prohibit taxpayer reimbursement of campaign and legal defense funds and strip pensions from public officials convicted of corruption.

"We need to restore the public’s trust in state government and that will only happen when the Senate Republicans agree to listen to the voters and take meaningful steps to clean up Albany. The Senate Democrats stand ready to reform state government, and I hope the Senate Republicans will finally join us.”

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman also reacted to the news.

"The choice we face is quite simple," he said in a statement. "Either New Yorkers must endure more scandals, more prosecutions and the continued loss of public confidence; or we enact transformational reform to prevent corruption in the first place."

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