Ex-NY Senate leader Skelos gets new trial in corruption case

Dean Skelos. (Dean G. Skelos / [CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 US])

NEW YORK (AP) -- A federal appeals court has vacated the corruption convictions of former New York State Senate Leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam. The ruling comes just months after former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver saw his own conviction vacated. The appeals court decisions mean that new trials have been granted for Sheldon Silver, Dean Skelos and Adam Skelos.

“The problem in both the Silver and Skelos cases is that the judge gave a legal definition of what an ‘official act’ is, by an elected official, that the Supreme Court said is wrong,” said Attorney Paul DerOhannesian.

DerOhannesian said that a recent Supreme Court ruling narrows the definition of what an “official act” is. That change came after the trials. But in light of it, the appeals court decided new trials were necessary.

“It's important to note that the court didn't say we're going to throw out the charges and you can’t be tried again. The second part of the case says there is sufficient evidence here,” said DerOhannesian.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement, “The Second Circuit, while finding that the evidence was more than sufficient to convict Dean and Adam Skelos, held that a part of the jury instruction is no longer good law under the Supreme Court decision in McDonnell. 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 guilt and again give the public the justice it deserves. Cleaning up corruption is never easy, and that is certainly true for corruption in New York State government. But we are as committed as ever to doing everything we can to keep our government honest. That is what we will do in this prosecution as well.”

Alexandra Shapiro, the attorney representing Dean Skelos released a statement saying, “Senator Skelos is grateful for the Court’s careful consideration of the issues and looks forward to the next steps. We believe that as events unfold it is going to become clear that this is a case that never should have been brought.”

Robert Alan Culip, the attorney representing Adam Skelos, told CBS6 News over the phone that he is gratified by the decision.

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