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State Senate leader charged with criminal offense by feds

It appears that the job of legislation is being upended by the scandals of corruption in Albany. The majority leader of the New York Senate, Dean G. Skelos, and his son are widely expected to be arrested by federal prosecutors in the few days. They will be charged with the criminal offense of public corruption under federal law.

This arrest is just three months on the heels of federal charges of bribery and kickbacks brought against Sheldon Silver, the former Speaker of the New York House. The expected arrest casts a deep shadow on the ability of the House and Senate to conduct effective business in coming months. The federal investigation against Skelos centers on the business activities of his son and whether the companies that have made consulting payments to him have benefited by state action influenced by the father.

Thus far, prosecutors seem to be focusing on whether Skelos used his influence to benefit a small environmental company that hired the Senator's son. The company won a contract in Nassau County, Skelos' home county, despite not being the low bidder. The Senator may be able to counter the charges by arguing that there are several more factors that are taken into account other than money when a contract is considered for selection in a bidding process. A criminal felony conviction should require more than the bald fact that a contract was awarded to a company that employs a relative of a public official.

The same U.S. Attorney that arrested Silver has brought these criminal offense charges against Skelos. This is one of several arrests of top legislators in New York in recent years. At least one of those arrests ended up in an acquittal. Defense counsel will investigate the government's contentions and evidence, and then construct a defense that will vigorously  challenge the contention that something illegal took place.

Source: The New York Times, "Dean Skelos, New York Senate Leader, and His Son Are Said to Face Arrest Next Week", William K. Rashbaum, Susanne Craig, and Thomas Kaplan, May 1, 2015

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