Appeals Court Tosses Corruption Case of NY’s Skelos

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A federal appeals court threw out the 2015 public-corruption conviction of former New York state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, but prosecutors said they would retry the case, the Wall Street Journal reports. The move comes after Sheldon Silver, the former Democratic New York state Assembly Speaker, had his corruption conviction vacated in July. Prosecutors vowed to retry that case, too. In both instances, an appeals court cited the Supreme Court ruling that voided the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who had accepted loans and gifts from a businessman.

Prosecutors argued McDonnell performed official acts, including arranging meetings and contacting government officials. The McDonnell case, which was decided after Silver was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison, clarified what counts as official acts of government power. The court said the jury instructions could criminalize ordinary behavior such as setting up meetings or hosting events for constituents. In the Skelos case, a jury found Skelos and his son guilty of eight criminal counts—including conspiracy, bribery and extortion—in what prosecutors described as a wide-ranging scheme to leverage the senator’s political power for his son’s financial benefit. The former legislator was sentenced to five years in prison. Joon Kim, acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney, said: “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.”

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