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Dean George Skelos (born February 16, 1948) is an American Republican politician and convicted felon. He is a former Majority Leader of the New York State Senate. Skelos represented the Ninth District in the State Senate, comprising the southwest region of Nassau County, from 1985 through 2015.[1]

Dean Skelos
Dean Skelos2.jpg
Majority Leader of the New York State Senate
In office
January 1, 2011 – May 11, 2015
Preceded byPedro Espada Jr.
Succeeded byJohn J. Flanagan
In office
June 8, 2009 – July 9, 2009
Preceded byMalcolm Smith
Succeeded byPedro Espada Jr.
In office
June 24, 2008 – December 31, 2008
Preceded byJoseph Bruno
Succeeded byMalcolm Smith
Lieutenant Governor of New York
In office
June 24, 2008 – December 31, 2008
GovernorDavid Paterson
Preceded byJoseph Bruno
Succeeded byMalcolm Smith
Member of the New York Senate
from the 9th district
In office
January 1, 1985 – December 11, 2015
Preceded byCarol Berman
Succeeded byTodd Kaminsky
Personal details
Dean George Skelos

(1948-02-16) February 16, 1948 (age 71)
Rockville Centre, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Gail Skelos
ChildrenAdam Skelos
Alma materWashington College
Fordham University

Skelos forfeited his Senate seat when he was convicted on federal corruption charges in 2015.[2][3] In 2017, his conviction was overturned following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McDonnell v. United States.[2] His retrial resulted in a second conviction on July 17, 2018.[4] Skelos was sentenced to four years and three months in prison. He began his prison term in January 2019.

Skelos was the second Long Islander to hold the position of Senate Majority Leader; the first was Ralph J. Marino.


Early lifeEdit

Skelos was born on February 16, 1948, in Rockville Centre, New York,[5] the oldest of four children.[6] He is the grandson of a Greek immigrant.[6] Skelos graduated from Washington College in Maryland with a B.A. in history in 1970 and earned a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law in 1975.[7] Except for his time in college, Skelos spent his entire life as a Rockville Centre resident.[6]

Political careerEdit

New York State AssemblyEdit

In 1980, the seat for the 19th District in the New York State Assembly, representing parts Nassau County, became open when incumbent Assemblyman Raymond J. McGrath decided to run for the United States House of Representatives seat that was opened by the retirement of nine-term incumbent John W. Wydler.[citation needed]

Running on the Republican, Conservative, and Right-to-Life party lines, Skelos won the general election on November 4, 1980, by defeating Democratic and Liberal party candidate Peter S. Kilcommons, Jr. by a 64% to 36% margin (30,749 to 17,371 votes).[citation needed]

New York State SenateEdit

After one Assembly term, Skelos gave up his seat to challenge incumbent Democratic-Liberal New York State Senator Carol Berman in 1982. The reapportionment earlier that year changed the boundaries of the 9th Senate District, which previously included parts of Nassau and Queens County. The new district, drawn by Senate Republicans, was entirely within Nassau County and favored Republicans. Skelos was endorsed by the Republican and Conservative parties. Berman, running on the Democratic and Liberal party lines won the race by 6,108 votes (55,504 to 49,396). Matthew Doyle, the Right-to-Life party candidate, received 2,520 votes in the three-way race.[8]

In 1984, Skelos challenged Berman in a rematch. This time, Skelos, who had President Ronald Reagan visit the district and campaign for him, narrowly defeated Berman in a two-way race, winning by 50.7% to 49.3% (67,834 to 65,875 votes).[9]

In 1986, Berman challenged Skelos in their third consecutive state senate contest. Skelos, running on the Republican and Conservative party lines, defeated Berman, the Democratic and Liberal parties' candidate, in a three-way race, winning 53% of the vote (49,761) to 43.7% (41,005). Right-to-Life party candidate Joan McDermott received 3.2% (2,967) of the vote.[10]

From 1995 to 2008, Skelos was Deputy Majority Leader of the New York State Senate.[11] In 2008, he became the Majority Leader of the New York State Senate after Joseph Bruno stepped down from that post.[12]

In 2011, Skelos voted against the Marriage Equality Act, which the Senate passed 33-29.[13] In a statement he said, "this is a very difficult issue and it will be a vote of conscience for every member of the Senate."[14]

In 2013, as Senate Leader, Skelos was responsible for suspending Senate rules and bringing the NY SAFE Act to the floor. He later voted for the SAFE Act and advocated its passage.[15][16]

Law practiceEdit

While serving in the State Senate, Skelos was also of counsel to Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, P.C., from 1994 through 2015.[17][18] He was automatically disbarred in 2016 after being convicted of a felony.[19]

Federal prosecution and convictionEdit

Skelos and his son, Adam Skelos, were arrested and charged with six counts of corruption by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in May 2015. The criminal complaint included extortion, fraud, and bribe solicitation charges. Skelos was accused of taking official actions to benefit a small Arizona environmental company, AbTech Industries, and a large New York developer, Glenwood Management, that had financial ties to AbTech.

According to the complaint, Senator Skelos agreed to do so as long as the companies paid his son.[20] On May 28, 2015, Skelos and his son were indicted by a federal grand jury on six counts of bribery, extortion, wire fraud, and conspiracy. The indictment was largely the same as the six-count criminal complaint, but it also accused the elder Skelos of securing over $100,000 in payments and health benefits from an unnamed medical malpractice insurer.[21]

After his arrest, Skelos asserted that he and his son were innocent.[20] He stepped down from his majority leader post in the Senate a week after his arrest; he had already begun a leave of absence from the law firm of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek. "The criminal complaint against him said he had earned $2.6 million there since 1994, despite apparently doing no actual legal work; he was paid instead for referring clients, some of whom had business before the state."[21]

In July 2015, in an expanded indictment, federal prosecutors added two new charges of soliciting bribes from a Long Island company in return for favorable legislation.[22] The new indictment charged that Skelos procured a position for his son at a medical malpractice insurance company with business before the state:

... the CEO agreed to hire him, "in part because the CEO understood from Dean Skelos's repeated requests relating to the court-reporting service that Dean Skelos wanted the CEO to assist Adam Skelos financially." The CEO offered the younger Mr. Skelos a job in sales that paid $78,000 a year, even though he wasn't licensed to sell insurance ... A week after he was hired, ... Adam Skelos' supervisor called him to set up a meeting about his schedule, "given that Adam Skelos had not reported for work for more than one hour during the previous four days." ..."Adam Skelos called back Supervisor-1 and threatened to 'smash in' Supervisor-1's head, and told Supervisor-1 that Supervisor-1 would 'never amount to anything' and that 'guys like' Supervisor-1 'couldn't shine Adam Skelos's shoes.'"... The younger Mr. Skelos went on to say he didn't need to show up to work because his father was the Majority Leader of the State Senate, according to the indictment.[23]

On December 11, 2015, a unanimous jury convicted Dean and Adam Skelos of all eight counts of bribery, extortion, and corruption. Dean Skelos was convicted of using his position in the Senate to benefit three companies—a real estate developer, an environmental technology company, and a medical malpractice insurer—in exchange for the companies' agreement to give work to his son. Prosecutors said that the three businesses provided Adam Skelos with about $300,000 and other benefits. The trial verdict automatically terminated Dean Skelos from the state legislature.[24][25]


On May 12, 2016, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood sentenced Dean Skelos to five years in prison, and Adam Skelos to six-and-a-half years in prison.[26] Wood allowed both to remain free on bail pending appeals based on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in McDonnell v. United States, in which the court reversed the corruption conviction of a former Virginia Governor.[27]

On September 26, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the convictions and ordered a retrial, arguing that the district judge had given the jury improper instructions. However the panel wrote that the government's evidence appeared to be sufficient to allow a properly instructed jury to convict the Skeloses, as there was enough evidence to establish that there had been a quid pro quo arrangement in each of the schemes at issue.[2]

The retrial of Skelos and his son began on June 19, 2018.[28] The Skeloses had filed a motion for a change in venue, arguing that because of pretrial publicity in New York, the trial should be moved to another state.[29] The motion was later rejected.[30] During the retrial, in contrast to the first trial, Skelos took the witness stand and testified in his own defense. On July 17, 2018 Skelos and his son were found guilty on all charges.[31][32]

On October 23, 2018, Dean Skelos was sentenced to four years and three months in federal prison. Judge Wood suggested that he had been unrepentant and that parts of his testimony were outright false. While a four-year sentence would have otherwise been appropriate, she said, his lies warranted an additional three months, adding, "Although a defendant has a right to testify in his own defense, giving false testimony must be punished."[33] Adam Skelos was sentenced to a four-year prison term.[33] Skelos reported to the Federal Correctional Institute in Otisville, Orange County, New York to begin his prison term on January 8, 2019.[34]

Under New York State law, Skelos continues to draw his annual pension of nearly $100,000 while in prison.[33]


  1. ^ "District 9".
  2. ^ a b c Benjamin Weisner, Dean Skelos's 2015 Corruption Conviction Is Overturned, New York Times (September 26, 2017).
  3. ^ Benjamin Weiser & Vivian Yeemay, Dean Skelos Is Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison in Corruption Case, New York Times (May 12, 2016)(Limited access).
  4. ^ "Dean Skelos, son convicted of corruption in retrial". Newsday.
  5. ^ New York Staff Directory 2007 (CQ Press), p. 108.
  6. ^ a b c Yancey Roy, Skelos learned value of hard work early, Newsday (May 7, 2011).
  7. ^ New majority leader Dean Skelos a skilled, savvy politician, Associated Press (June 24, 2008).
  8. ^ "Voting in New York State for 61 Seats in the Senate". New York Times. November 4, 1982. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  9. ^ "The Returns Across New York in Campaigns for Seats in State Legislature; The Results of the Balloting for New York State Senate". New York Times. November 8, 1984. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  10. ^ "The Elections: Facts and Figures; Balloting for State Senate: New York's 61 Districts". New York Times. November 6, 1986. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  11. ^ Confessore, Nicholas; Peters, Jeremy Wl (July 6, 2008). "Long Island Senator Emerges on Top After Many Years of Working the Room". New York Times. p. A21. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  12. ^ Hakim, Danny; Peters, Jeremy W. (June 25, 2008). "New Day in Albany Opens as the Senate Selects Bruno's Successor". New York Times. p. B1. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  13. ^ "Roll call". 2011.
  14. ^ "Same sex marriage legislation: Skelos' Statement".
  15. ^ "Rally held in Rockville Centre to protest Sen. Dean Skelos' recent vote for the NY SAFE Act". February 16, 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  16. ^ "Skelos On Gun Control: 'Perhaps We Did Act In Haste'". Capital Tonight. 6 February 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
  17. ^ "Senator Dean G. Skelos, Of Counsel". Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, P.C. Archived from the original on April 25, 2015. Retrieved April 25, 2015.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  18. ^ Saul, Josh (November 6, 2015). "Dean Skelos, son, made thousands for 'no-show jobs': feds". New York Post.
  19. ^ John Riley, Dean Skelos formally disbarred after corruption conviction, Newsday (July 28, 2016).
  20. ^ a b Craig, Susanne (May 4, 2015). "New York Senate Leader and Son Are Arrested on Corruption Charges". New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  21. ^ a b Rashbaum, William K. (May 28, 2015). "Grand Jury Indicts Dean Skelos, Ex-New York Senate Leader, and Son in Corruption Case". New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  22. ^ Orden, Erica (July 21, 2015). "Sen. Dean Skelos, Son Face New Charges in Extortion Case". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 28, 2016.(subscription or log-in required)
  23. ^ Jorgensen, Jillian (July 21, 2015). "New Charges for Dean Skelos and Son Allege No-Show Malpractice Jobs". Observer. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  24. ^ Rashbaum, William K.; Craig, Susanne (December 11, 2015). "Dean Skelos, Ex-New York Senate Leader, and His Son Are Convicted of Corruption". New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  25. ^ Ross, Barbara; Bekiempis, Victoria; Gregorian, Dareh (December 11, 2015). "Dean Skelos guilty in corruption case; former state Senate Majority Leader and son now face up to 130 years in prison". New York Daily News. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  26. ^ Zapotosky, Matt (May 12, 2016). "Former New York State Senate majority leader sentenced to five years in federal prison". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  27. ^ Chokshi, Niraj (August 5, 2016). "Judge Lets Dean Skelos and Son Remain Free While Appealing Convictions". New York Times.
  28. ^ "Corruption retrial begins for Skelos, son". Pressconnects.
  29. ^ Skelos, son want corruption retrial moved out of state, Newsday (March 2, 2018).
  30. ^ "No change of venue for Skelos retrial, judge rules". Newsday.
  31. ^ Wang, Vivian (July 18, 2018). "Guilty, Again: Dean Skelos, Former Senate Leader, Is Convicted of Corruption in Retrial". New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  32. ^ Tabak, Alec (July 17, 2018). "Disgraced State Sen. Dean Skelos and son Adam found guilty of corruption". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  33. ^ a b c Weiser, Benjamin; Wang, Vivian (October 25, 2018). "Dean Skelos, Ex-New York Senate Leader, Gets 4 Years and 3 Months in Prison". New York Times. p. A24. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  34. ^ Fuller, Nicole (January 8, 2019). "Dean and Adam Skelos report to federal prison, officials say". Newsday. Retrieved 14 January 2019.

External linksEdit

New York Assembly
Preceded by
Raymond J. McGrath
New York State Assembly
19th district

Succeeded by
Armand D'Amato
New York State Senate
Preceded by
Carol Berman
New York Senate
9th district

Succeeded by
Todd Kaminsky
Political offices
Preceded by
Joseph Bruno
Majority Leader of the New York State Senate
Succeeded by
Malcolm Smith
Preceded by
Pedro Espada Jr.
Majority Leader of the New York State Senate
Succeeded by
John J. Flanagan
Preceded by
Joseph Bruno
Lieutenant Governor of New York

Succeeded by
Malcolm Smith