Published: Tue, September 26, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Federal appeals panel tosses Dean Skelos and son's corruption convictions

Federal appeals panel tosses Dean Skelos and son's corruption convictions

Dean Skelos, the former state Senate majority leader who was sentenced to five years in prison for corruption last year, had his conviction overturned by a federal appeals court who found his conduct didn't rise to the level of corruption under a current Supreme Court definition.

FILE - Dean Skelos, and his son Adam Skelos, leave Manhattan Federal Court after being found guilty on all counts of corruption charges in New York, Dec. 11, 2015.

In both instances, the court took exception to the definition of an "official act" in the conviction "which we can not conclude is harmless beyond a reasonable doubt" leading to the case being vacated. On Tuesday, their convictions were overturned. Mr. Skelos and Mr.

The McDonnell decision came after Skelos and Silver's original convictions, which were overturned because the jury instructions no longer lined up with the post-McDonnell definition of "official act". Prosecutors alleged that the men abused the father's office to pressure a Manhattan developer, a medical malpractice insurer and an environmental technology company to provide the son with hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting work, a no-show job and a direct payment of $20,000.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals panel sided with the Skelos lawyers' arguments, determining the jury instructions were wrong under the new interpretation of public corruption under federal law.

"We identify charging error in light of McDonnell v. United States, which was decided after this case was tried", the panel said. "Because we can not conclude that the charging error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, we are obligated to vacate the convictions".

The appeals court's decision Tuesday explicitly allows prosecutors to seek a new trial against Skelos, just as they did against Silver.

As for Silver, acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim has already announced that he will retry the disgraced former Assembly speaker.

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