DEAN SKELOS AND SON’S CONVICTIONS OVERTURNED, A BLOW TO FORMER U.S ATTORNEY PREET BHARARA
Ex-U.S. attorney Preet Bharara’s year continues to get worse. Earlier this year he was fired by President Donald Trump and has been a prominent critic of the President since. Before he was fired, Bharara had launched major anti-corruption campaigns aimed at high profile figures including New York State Senate leader Dean Skelos. Earlier this week Bharara’s legacy took another hit after a federal appeals court overturned Skelos’ conviction.
2ND CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS ACTED AFTER SUPREME COURT NARROWS DEFINITION OF CORRUPTION
Specifically it was the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals that threw out the conviction of Skelos as well as his son, both of whom have been granted new trials. The convictions were thrown out as the Court found that the jurors in the original case had been wrongly instructed after considering a Supreme Court decision after their 2015 convictions, which had narrowed the definition of a corrupt act.
LINE MOVED ON WHETHER “INSTRUCTION ERROR” HARMLESS BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT
“Because we cannot conclude that the [instruction] error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, we are obliged to vacate the convictions,” the court wrote.
The decision came less than three months after the court reversed former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s separate corruption conviction on the same grounds. Skelos is a Republican, Silver a Democrat.
DECISION FOLLOWS SIMLAR REVERSAL FOR FORMER STATE ASSEMBLY SPEAKER SHELDON SILVER
Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said that they are “disappointed in the decision” and plan to weigh their appellate options.
“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 and again give the public the justice it deserves,” Kim said in a statement. “Cleaning up corruption is never easy, and that is certainly true for corruption in New York State government.”
PROSECUTORS EAGER TO RE-CONVICT DIRTY POLITICIANS IN FILTHY NEW YORK STATE GOVERNMENT
He added: “But we are committed as ever to doing everything we can to keep our government honest. That is what we will do in this prosecution as well.”
The decision Tuesday is a major setback for Bharara, who was fired by Trump in March. He has since carved out a post-office career as a commentator, while regularly criticizing Trump’s policies and comments on Twitter.
BHARARA TWEETS DISAPPOINTMENT, NO COMMENT OTHERWISE
Bharara tweeted that the ruling was “not unexpected, but still disappointing, given there was more than enough evidence to convict as the appeals court itself found.” He did not respond to media requests for comment.
SKELOS AND SON SERIAL EXTORTERS, LEVERAGED OVER $300,000
Skelos and his son, Adam, were convicted of federal extortion charges in 2015. The elder Skelos was accused of strong-arming three companies with a stake in state legislation—a major real estate developer, an environmental technology company and a medical malpractice insurer—into giving work to a son prosecutors portrayed as an underachieving only child whose sense of entitlement knew no bounds. The government said at the time that the businesses provided the younger Skelos with about $300,000 and other benefits. Dean Skelos was sentenced to five years in prison, and his son was given six-and-a-half years. Since 2000, more than 30 New York state lawmakers have left office over allegations of criminal or ethical violations, and more than a dozen have been convicted of those charges.