Federal investigators spent 2 1/2 months secretly listening to the mobile-phone calls of then-New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a prosecutor said as Skelos and his son entered not guilty pleas to U.S. corruption charges.
Prosecutors also wiretapped two of Adam Skelos’s mobile phones -- one for four months, the other for one month, the prosecutor said at the pair’s court appearance on Monday in Manhattan federal court.
Dean and Adam Skelos were arrested last month on corruption charges, and federal prosecutors last week unsealed an indictment with additional allegations against the Republican state senator. Their indictment followed by three months that of ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is accused of running unrelated kickback schemes netting almost $4 million.
Skelos and Silver, who also denies wrongdoing, were among the most powerful politicians in New York until their arrests.
The Skeloses are accused of demanding payoffs from companies with business in Albany, the state capital, as a way to enrich Adam. According to the indictment, Dean Skelos, 67, pressured a medical-malpractice insurer that had business before the state to give Adam a no-show job and $100,000 in cash and health benefits. The company wasn’t identified.
The two “engaged in a corrupt scheme” to cash in on Dean Skelos’s position at the helm of the Senate, according to the indictment. They pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars from campaign donors and firms with business before the state, according to the indictment.
The wiretaps are just part of the evidence against the two. A prosecutor said in court that the U.S. has 2,400 audio files and millions of pages of documents including e-mails, text messages and phone and bank records. Defense lawyers will be provided with copies of the records.
The two men, both of Rockville Centre, New York, face as long as 20 years in prison if convicted of extortion, fraud and other charges. They pleaded not guilty through attorneys before U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood.
The case is U.S. v. Skelos, 15-cr-00317, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).