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Former NY state Senate leader gets over 4 years in prison

Former Republican state Senate leader Dean Skelos was sentenced to more than 4 years in prison Wednesday on corruption charges

NEW YORK (AP) — Former New York state Senate leader Dean Skelos was sentenced to four years and three months in prison Wednesday after his conviction on public corruption charges.

U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood announced the penalty for the longtime Republican powerbroker, citing his health challenges at age 70 as reason to reduce his sentence from the five years she gave him previously.

She said she would have given him only four years in prison, except he lied and distorted truth on the witness stand.

The judge said Skelos had caused "immeasurable damage" to the respect New Yorkers have in their state government. She also cited a need to send a message to politicians who might contemplate illegally profiting from power.

Skelos and his son Adam were convicted in July on charges of extortion, wire fraud and bribery. Their 2015 convictions were rejected on appeal after the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed public corruption law as it overturned the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Prosecutors had urged at least 6½ years in prison for the elder Skelos while his lawyers said he should get no more than two years.

His son was sentenced Wednesday afternoon to four years in prison, 2½ years less than he received after his original conviction.

The strain of two trials caused a rift between the elder Skelos and his son that they both alluded to in their remarks.

"My son Adam, I love him more today than yesterday," a choked-up Dean Skelos said. "Although our relationship is strained, I hope it will someday be restored."

Later in the day, Adam Skelos said of his father: "We don’t talk anymore. That’s a loss I thought I would only experience in death."

Adam Skelos said he was changed: "I don’t remember the person I once was."

Dean Skelos and his son were arrested in 2015 when prosecutors alleged that the father abused his public office by pressuring businesses that needed state help to give his son no-show jobs if they wanted to retain his political support.

The men were convicted just weeks after Democrat Sheldon Silver — the former state Assembly Speaker — was convicted on corruption charges in a retrial that also came after the Supreme Court McDonnell ruling.

Silver was sentenced in July to seven years in prison, considerably less than the dozen years he received after his 2015 conviction on charges he earned $4 million illegally in return for legislative favors for a cancer researcher and real estate developers.

At trial, Dean Skelos testified there was never a quid pro quo expected when he reached out on behalf of Adam, 36.

Silver and Skelos were among a trio dubbed the "three men in a room" in Albany, a nod to the longstanding practice of legislative leaders and the governor negotiating key bills behind closed doors. Skelos served in the Senate from 1985 to 2015 and became Senate leader in 2008.

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