Another day, another jolt to the precarious credibility of New York’s political system. State Senate President Dean G. Skelos of Long Island was arrested Monday morning, marking the latest in a steady stream of corruption cases to emerge from the Empire State.
Skelos and his son, Adam, were charged by federal prosecutors with multiple counts of conspiracy, bribery and extortion as part of an alleged scheme to leverage the senator’s power to enrich his son.
In a statement, the senator said Monday that he is “innocent of the charges leveled against me.”
The federal complaint details a broad and complex alleged campaign dating back to 2010 to win business for the younger Skelos, primarily through the influence of a powerful real estate development firm. Drawing on emails, tapped phone conversations and information provided by two cooperating witnesses, prosecutors say the elder Skelos asked the developer, Glenwood Management, to provide business to his son but asked that the money not come directly from Glenwood.
The complaint says the younger Skelos eventually received more than $200,000 this way, though most of the money actually came through an environmental wastewater treatment company in which Glenwood’s founder and a top executive were investors. The money was a coup for Adam Skelos who, according to the complaint, acknowledged to an executive at the environmental company that he “literally knew nothing about water or, you know, any of that stuff.”
Christopher P. Conniff, a lawyer for Adam Skelos, said his client is not guilty of the charges.
In return for the payments, Sen. Skelos allegedly worked in several ways to benefit Glenwood and the wastewater treatment company, AbTech Industries, including helping to secure real estate tax breaks, facilitating a $12 million county government contract for AbTech, helping AbTech lobby unsuccessfully to legalize hydraulic fracturing in the state and pushing for changes in the 2015-2016 budget that would have increased funding for stormwater infrastructure.
Neither Glenwood nor AbTech was named in the complaint, and neither has been charged. In a statement, AbTech said it is cooperating with investigators. Alan Levine, Glenwood’s lawyer, declined to comment.