New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son were arrested and charged in a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy to profit from the senator's political power, threatening another leadership shake-up in the Capitol reports the Wall Street Journal. The complaint from the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan charged Skelos, 67 the state's highest-ranking Republican, and his son, Adam, 32, with two counts of conspiracy, two counts of extortion and two counts of solicitation of bribes and gratuities.
The complaint describes an alleged scheme to extort businesses for money to benefit the senator's son, with the expectation that the payments would influence the senator's official actions. It also alleges both men went to great lengths to conceal their activity, including using coded language and a so-called burner phone. “I know that I will be found not only not guilty, but innocent,” the senator from Long Island said. The Skelos probe is part of a broad inquiry by federal investigators into alleged wrongdoing in Albany, and the latest charges come just months after Democrat Sheldon Silver, the former longtime Assembly Speaker, was arrested on corruption charges. Silver, who was forced from his leadership post, has pleaded not guilty. Senate Republicans said Skelos will remain the majority leader as he fights the charges.