Former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, are slated to report to federal prison Tuesday to begin serving their 4-year sentences for using Dean's powerful perch in state government to shake down businesses for $300,000 in jobs and fees for Adam.
The Skeloses, who were both found guilty of eight counts of bribery, conspiracy and extortion at their July retrial, are probably headed to separate federal prisons in different states, according to court records.
U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, who presided over the first Skelos trial in 2015 and the second trial in 2018, on Thursday recommended that Adam Skelos serve his 4-year stint at the Lewisburg Satellite Prison Camp in Pennsylvania, a minimum-security facility, following a request from his attorney.
But Adam Skelos said in an interview Sunday the Federal Bureau of Prisons had assigned him to serve his time in the low-security prison in Danbury, Connecticut. While he had initially requested Danbury because of its close proximity to Long Island, he wanted to go to Lewisburg because of a program there that could possibly reduce the time he serves. He said he was content with Danbury because it would be easier for him to visit with his fiancee and children.
"I’m going to do whatever they tell me to do; I’m going in with that mindset," said Adam Skelos, the father of four sons ranging in age from 7 years old to 1 month old.
Dean Skelos is likely to serve his 4-year and 3-month sentence at the Otisville Correctional Facility, a medium-security federal prison in upstate Orange County, according to court records.
Adam Skelos' attorney John J. Kenney said Friday that he had asked for the Lewisburg placement so Adam, who in the past has dealt with substance abuse issues, could take advantage of programming there, calling it "the right place to get treatment."
Kenney said no request was made for the father and son, who are estranged, to serve their time together.
"Certainly we did not make any such request," said Kenney of Manhattan. "It’s just not an appropriate factor to make a request for."
Adam Skelos said he hasn't spoken to his father in many months. The estrangement began when his father was offered a plea agreement from the U.S. attorney's office between the first and second trials, the younger Skelos said. Dean Skelos turned down the offer and didn't tell Adam, he said. And the tension between father and son reached a "boiling point" when Adam, who was adopted by Dean and his first wife, connected with his birthparents and didn't tell Dean.
"I think about him all the time," Adam said. "I love him to death. That doesn’t change. I know this is a horrible experience we’ve gone through, but I don’t know why it affected us."
The Bureau of Prisons, which determines the placement of prisoners, said in a statement that the office "does not release information about an inmate's designated institution for service of sentence until the inmate has arrived at the applicable facility."
Dean Skelos didn't return a message seeking comment. Dean Skelos' attorney also did not respond.
Dean Skelos, 70, a Rockville Centre Republican who served in the State Legislature for 30 years, was once one of Long Island's most influential public officials. As Senate majority leader starting in 2011, he was one of the "three men in a room" — along with the governor and Assembly speaker — who ran New York until he was expelled from the Senate in 2015 upon his first conviction.
He was again convicted in July of extortion and conspiracy of using his power in Albany to help Adam, 36, of Rockville Centre, who was also convicted, get jobs and fees worth $300,000 from a developer, a Long Island medical malpractice insurer and a Nassau County stormwater contractor.
Skelos' conviction was one of several in recent years involving top government officials in Albany. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), who like Skelos was convicted at a retrial after his initial conviction was reversed, was sentenced initially to 12 years, and later saw that reduced to 7. Joe Percoco, a top aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was sentenced to 6 years.
The 2018 corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda, ended in a mistrial. The pair are set to be retried later this month.
Otisville has a total of 824 inmates, with just 116 at the camp where Dean Skelos will probably serve his sentence, according to the Bureau of Prisons website, which says that Otisville has psychologists available for psychotherapy and also offers services for drug and alcohol abuse and other emotional problems.
Danbury has a total of 1,049 inmates and houses men and women, according to the prison's website.
The Skeloses were found guilty on the same charges at trial in 2015, but the convictions were overturned on appeal due to a jury instructions error. Dean Skelos, who notably took the stand at the second trial, was sentenced to 5 years in prison and Adam to 6½ years the first go-round.
But after the second conviction, the judge unexpectedly reduced their sentences, saying that while she wanted to send a message to Albany politicians, she thought Adam Skelos had made great strides toward dealing with his substance abuse problems.
The judge said she cut Dean Skelos' sentence because of his age and emotional struggles because of the convictions, but tacked on an additional three months because she said his testimony at his second trial contained "falsehoods, irrelevancies and mischaracterizations."
Dean Skelos didn't stick around the courthouse for his son's sentencing in October when he was also sentenced earlier that same day. In a pre-sentencing memo, Dean Skelos' attorney, Robert Gage, said there was a "rift" in the father-son relationship.
"I hope we do reconcile," said Adam. "I miss him."
With John Riley
Nicole Fuller is Newsday's senior criminal justice reporter. She began working at Newsday in 2012 and previously covered local government.