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Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.
Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.
Tue, 26 Nov 2019 10:00
Preet Bharara investigates Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos. The explosive trials and the aftermath.
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This episode contains some strong language. It's April, 2013, clear and chilly as if winter is trying to claw back the little bit of spring that New Yorkers have started to enjoy for the last few weeks. And inside the offices of Dean Skellos, the most powerful Republican in the state, the mood is grim. Skellos spent another sleepless night worrying about his son, Adam. He's running out of money again. Over the years, Adam has struggled with drugs and alcohol, staying in school and holding down a job. Dean has tried to help him, even using his influence to get him work, but at 32, Adam is still struggling. And as a single father, Dean Skellos feels obligated to help. Skellos runs his hands through his thick gray hair, then reaches for his phone to call Charles Durego, a senior executive at Glenwood Management, one of New York's top real estate developers. Glenwood also happens to be one of the state's top political donors. They have given millions of dollars and campaign funds to the three most powerful men in New York politics, Andrew Cuomo, Sheldon Silver, and Dean Skellos himself. In exchange, the firm has been granted access and favor. But today, that access is going to have far reaching consequences. Senator Skellos, how are you? Hi, Charles. I just wanted to thank you again for helping Adam land the consulting job with Abtech. I think it's going to work out well for everybody, but I need to favor Charlie. We need to get that Abtech salary up. For a grand a month just isn't cutting it. Adam's got two kids, a mortgage, and well, money's tight. Durego's size. He's gotten a lot of these calls from Senator Skellos in the last two years. He even secured Adam a $20,000 commission for work he never did. Why are Adam Skellos money problems? His problems. But he knows the answer. Glenwood has a lot of business before the state. And Senate Majority Leader Skellos has a lot of influence. Well, Senator, I can try, but he has no experience in the environmental space. Well, he's a quick learner. Now, about this water project deal. The company Abtech has submitted a bid for a $12 million water treatment contract with Nassau County, Skellos Home Turf, and Durego's company Glenwood is invested in the deal. Skellos cuts to the chase. He can make it happen, or nix it. I would hate to see things go south for you boys. Senator, you assured us that if I helped get Adam a job, you'd help us with the contract. Now, I'm asking you to bump up his salary, touch. Charles Durego hangs up the phone with Skellos. He feels trapped. Reluctantly, he opens his computer to compose a letter to GlenRink, Abtech CEO. There's no gray area here. It's pay, or don't play. American scandal is sponsored by the new ABC drama Alaska Daily. When an indigenous woman goes missing in Alaska, it sparks new questions about other missing and murdered indigenous women. And that's where the thrilling new ABC drama Alaska Daily begins, and where it's headed, will have you on the edge of your seat. Two time Academy Award winner Hillary Swank stars as Eileen, a veteran reporter, who joins a team of local journalists working to bring the truth to light. From Academy Award winning screenwriter Tom McCarthy, Alaska Daily premieres Thursday, October 6th on ABC, and streams next day on Hulu. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together, and we'd love for you to join us. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music, or wherever you listen to podcasts. From Wondery, I'm Lindsey Graham, and this is American scandal. This is the fourth and final episode in our series about crime and corruption in New York's capital of all being. In our last episode, Governor Andrew Cuomo created a commission to investigate corruption in state government. Finally, someone was doing something to clean up the political cesspool. Then, nine months later, Cuomo abruptly shut it down after a closed door budget session with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skellos. The three men in a room had come to a consensus about Cuomo's ethics reform package, and the commission was no longer needed. But there's one federal prosecutor who has no intention of letting it go. If all money doesn't want to clean its own house, then preet Barara will do it for them. This is episode four, two men in a cell. The Manhattan offices of the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York are stark and cold, but the career prosecutors who inhabit them have much more important things on their minds than office decor. The Southern District, called the SDNY, attracts the best and brightest from the country's finest law schools. They're like a legal special ops unit, laser focused on anybody breaking federal laws. Their specialty is prosecuting mobsters, terrorists, white collar criminals on Wall Street, and corrupt politicians. On Thursday, April 10, 2014, the district's top lawyer, US Attorney, Preet Barara, is in his office, pacing. His red tie is loosened, his sleeves rolled up. Ever since he got the news that Andrew Cuomo had shut down the Moorland Commission, he's been livid. He thinks the public interest was bargained away behind closed doors in a meeting between the three men in a room, the most powerful politicians in Albany. And as US Attorney in the equally powerful Southern District of New York, he intends to do something about it. Legislators in Albany with something to hide may have thought they could breathe a sigh of relief with the commission off their backs, but they were wrong. Right now, across town, a handful of FBI and SDNY agents are emptying out the offices of the Moorland Commission, under orders to cart away every computer and every box of documents collected over the course of their nine month investigation into public corruption. Preet Barara's team is standing by to receive dozens of interviews and depositions with former and current legislators and other public officials, received through over 200 subpoenas, and he fully intends to examine every campaign donation, every piece of suspect legislation, every reference to anything that mildly whiffs of wrongdoing at the Capitol. Whether Barara's crack team will find anything that will help them finally bring top lawmakers to justice is too soon to tell, but for Barara, known as the enforcer, it won't be for lack of trying. Over the next few months, Barara's team begins sifting through the millions of documents, and they quickly find there's a lot to be suspicious about. Things like lawmakers who spent campaign dollars on trips to Acapulco, tanning salon sessions, and even cat food. But Barara isn't interested in that. He's searching for evidence of bigger misdeeds, bid rigging, bribe solicitation, and influence peddling. The New York State legislature works part time, and many office holders have other jobs. The temptation to blend the two for personal gain is big. Sheldon Silver, the powerful speaker of the assembly, has an outside job at a law firm called Whites and Luxembourg. What Barara's team doesn't know is exactly how much he makes or what he does. So like the Moreland commissioners before them, they follow the money, and subpoena Whites and Luxembourg for their accounting records. What they find is that Silver receives not only a base salary, but has also received more than $3 million in referral fees over the years from cases involving cancer patients. Nearly all of them have been treated by a doctor named Richard Talb. When investigators interview Dr. Talb, they learned he referred cases to Silver's firm. In exchange, Silver funneled half a million dollars from a state health care fund to Talb's clinic. No oversight, no records, a classic case of quid pro quo. And that's not Silver's only lucrative scheme. In December, the SDNY turns up another suspicious arrangement. An obscure two person law firm has been paying Silver substantial fees which he did not reveal on his income filings, and it's not clear what if anything he's been doing for them. Silver is a personal injury lawyer. The firm specializes in real estate tax abatement which Silver knows nothing about. What on earth are they paying him for? When reporters press him for answers, Silver refuses to talk. He's indignant, defensive. He insists he's following the law, but that law is easy to follow. It allows legislators to earn as much money as they want, from whomever they want, without reporting what they're doing to earn it. As long as that money doesn't influence his job at the capital, what Silver is doing is perfectly legal. And Silver swears none of his outside clients have any business before the state. But preets investigators soon learn that's not true. The Senators earnings from that small real estate firm are the result of a kickback scheme involving one of New York's most influential real estate developers, Glenwood Management. Glenwood's name cropped up during the Moryling Commission. It was involved in that abatement that Scalis was calling about, and it's impossible to deny that Glenwood has plenty of business with the state of New York. It's the connection Barara needs to show that Sheldon Silver's side hustles aren't simply shady. They're illegal. At midnight, January 22nd, 2015, the New York Times post the story online. It says the FBI will be arresting Sheldon Silver the next day on corruption charges. Despite the late hour, the news gets lawmakers in Albany buzzing. Phone calls are made, rumors circle, and there's a growing sense that this time Sheldon Silver might be in for it. Details about the charges are vague, but two things are clear. Preet Barara is about to get his man, and the New York State Capitol might soon be under new management. Legislators across the state stay up all night trying to digest the news, and wonder who will be left in charge. Sheldon Silver is awake too, not getting much sleep. At 8 in the morning, he puts on a dark suit, a black fedora. Takes a car to the FBI offices in Manhattan, and surrenders. Silver is a career politician with over 38 years in office. He rose through the ranks to the top leadership role where he ran the assembly for more than 20 years. He survived challenges to his seat, questions about his income, and calls for his ouster. He never imagined a moment where he gave himself up to the fence, but at age 71, that's exactly what he's doing. A hoard of reporters are there to greet Silver in front of the FBI offices in Manhattan. Photographer Snap photos of his inscrutable face as agents put him in handcuffs and help him into the backseat of a white Chevy Malibu. It's a humiliating moment for the speaker. Later that day, at the nearby courthouse, Silver is booked on five counts of federal corruption, including male fraud, wire fraud, and extortion. He is fingerprinted and then released on $200,000 bail while he awaits trial. On his way out of the courthouse, Silver tells the waiting reporters in a clear voice, I am confident I will be vindicated. Shortly after Silver's arrest, Preparara calls a press conference where his team of agents and investigators stand at the front of the room facing reporters. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Preparara, and I'm the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Today, we unseal a criminal complaint, charging the long time leader of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, with public corruption. Speaker Silver surrendered to the FBI in Manhattan earlier this morning, and we expect him to be presented in federal court this afternoon. For many years, New Yorkers have asked the question, how could Speaker Silver, one of the most powerful men in all of New York, earn millions of dollars in outside income, without deeply compromising his ability to honestly serve his constituents? Today, we provide the answer. He didn't. Preparara outlines all five charges. Together, they paint a picture of a cynical politician profiting from his office. Preparara also announces that the feds have frozen accounts holding $3.8 million of Silver's ill gotten gains, which were spread across eight different accounts in six different banks. It's been a bad day for Sheldon Silver for sure, not only is he under arrest, but now his ATM card won't even work. A reporter asked Berrar if he is satisfied with the Silver indictment, and if he has finished his work in Albany, Berrar responds with leading words, our unfinished fight against public corruption continues. You should stay tuned. The capitalism chaos, rumors, flying, people are in tears. One assembly woman calls for a moment of prayer. It's like a bomb exploded, and the pieces are raining down on lawmakers heads. Newspaper editorial board to cross the state call for Silver's resignation. But will Sheldon Silver resign? The governor's office is also struggling with how to respond to the news. The criminal complaint has not only fingered Silver directly, but it puts Governor Cuomo into the line of fire too, by alleging that the two politicians made a deal to kill the Moreland Commission. Cuomo is indignant. He tells a New York reporter there is no cover up. He knows nothing about Silver's activities. He says, if Anthony Weiner shows his private parts, do you blame Obama? These are criminal acts of individual legislators. What would you have me do? What could he do? Maybe revive the Moreland Commission. But the reporter politely refrains from making that suggestion. Back in Manhattan, Sheldon Silver is playing a cool on Saturday morning he attends Sabbath services just as he does every Saturday. He declines an offer of prayer from the rabbi saying, no need, not now. On Sunday night, Word reaches legislators in Albany that Silver is devising a plan for five of his allies to handle his duties during the storm while he retains his office and title. But this doesn't sit well with several lawmakers. On Monday, just before noon, Assemblyman Keith Wright issues a statement calling for Silver to step down. That afternoon, Monday, January 26th, Assembly Speaker Silver enters a conference room in Albany's capital building for the weekly meeting. Some lawmakers embrace him murmuring encouragement. Other reach for his hand. A few refuse to meet his eyes. Silver clears his throat and starts the meeting with a Monday afternoon tradition. Happy birthday to all the members celebrating this week. He looks around the room. You Joe, right? Happy birthday. And as you probably know, the Southern District of New York has issued a complaint against me. I would like to state for the record that I am innocent of these charges. I have served this body honorably and in good faith for the last 21 years. And I'm going to beat this. The room is silent. Several people look at the ground embarrassed as the speaker continues. And I would like to stay on serving the people of New York as I always have. The room remains silent. Would you like me to step out so that you can discuss this without me present? When no one responds, Silver heads for the door to a smattering of applause. Over the next five hours, the members debate whether to ask for Silver's resignation. Finally, a decision is made. One of the assemblymen heads to Silver's office to give him the news. He tells him he's sorry, but Silver has lost the confidence of his fellow Democrats. They'd like him to step down. A new speaker will be elected the following week. Late the next day, Silver, looking every day of his 71 years, shuffles towards the elevator. Reporters demand to know whether he'll cooperate. Silver snaps. I will not hinder the process. Then the elevator doors close behind him. 21 year reign of one of New York's most powerful politicians has come to an end. What if your family was the victim of a home invasion, or you woke up in the morgue, or you were seriously injured miles from help? What would you do? This is actually happening. Ask our listeners this very question while we bring you captivating real life stories of trauma and perseverance. This is actually happening brings listeners extraordinary true stories from the people who lived them. You'll hear stories about conflict, turmoil, or threats that dramatically alter the course of someone's life. Each episode is an exploration of the human spirit, and how survivors manage to overcome hardship and move on with their lives. Even thriving afterward. The new season of this is actually happening is available ad free only with Wondry Plus, and if this new season isn't enough, you can listen to more than 120 exclusive episodes available only to Wondry Plus subscribers. Join Wondry Plus on Apple Podcasts or on the Wondry app. It's now a week after Sheldon Silver's arrest, and everyone wants to know who will be the next to fall. The Moreland Commission spared no one in their investigation, and Preparara is clearly following up on all their leads. On January 29, the New York Post reports that the Southern District of New York has its eyes on the next most powerful lawmaker in Albany, Dean Skellos. Later that day, on a TV show with journalist Richard French, panel of pundits speculates an arrest may soon become... I think that if I'm Dean Skellos, I'm hiring council tonight, because in all likelihood he's got the same Shelley problem, and in all likelihood will be arrested or indicted, the only question is where. Alright, it's our next issue. Dean Skellos is unsure what Berra and his team have on him, but if they've found out about the jobs he's arranged for his son Adam, both father and son could go down, hard. Skellos has been trying to make Adam lay low, but nobody, not even Dean, can control his son. Now he's worried about wiretaps. Adam encourages his father to learn how to use FaceTime and switch to a burner phone when he believes can't be tapped, but he is wrong. Preparara and his team have been listening in on father and son's conversations since just before Christmas. So far, they've only heard a lot of complaining about Cuomo, and Dean scheming with his son about how he can divide and conquer the Democrats, but Berra is still listening. As the winter wears on, Dean tries to act like everything's normal. He leads Senate Republicans in session as he always has, but it's not easy. With Silvergone, there's a feeling of paranoia in the halls of the Capitol. Then, on March 28, 2015, Skellos is working through budget numbers when the phone rings. It's his son Adam, and he's in a foul, profane mood. Adam, I'm in Albany, I'm trying to finalize the budget. I have no time right now. It's really important, Dad. It's about Abtech. Adam, you know we can't talk about that, but Adam won't shut up. Damn it, Dad. You can't give me real advice about the problems I'm having with Abtech anymore. You can't talk normally because it's like fucking Preparara is listening to every fucking phone call. It's just fucking frustrating. That call, like several before, is called on tape. And it's that call that Preparara will later say is the moment he knew that father and son definitely had something to hide. Then, Berra gets another gift. Glenwood Management Executive Charles Derego is willing to cooperate. The same Charles Derego who for years had been fielding Dean Skellos's calls to help his son get a job and then erase at a firm Glenwood has an interest in Abtech. Derego's job at Glenwood is to hire lobbyists and spread campaign donations wherever the money will do the most good. Cuomo, Silver, and Skellos have all been on the receiving end of Glenwood's Largest. Paying politicians is a long standing tradition started by Glenwood's owner, Leonard Litwyn, who is now 100 years old. Glenwood was able to get around campaign finance laws by contributing money through a maze of 26 LLCs. And those donations have paid the company back thousands of times over. Over time, they've received tax breaks worth $700 million. To Berra's team, it looks a lot like Glenwood is buying influence. And that makes Charles Derego nervous. What the firm has done is technically legal, but only technically. And Derego doesn't want a spotlight put on the company or his 100 year old mentor. When the SDNY prosecutors finally meet with Derego, they tell him they are naming Litwyn as a co conspirator in the case they are building against Dean and Adam Skellos. But Derego can save Litwyn from prosecution if he agrees to cooperate and wear a wire. Derego never imagined he beyond this end of cloak and dagger type stuff. He was just trying to do his job. Make sure Glenwood prospered and Skellos didn't punish the firm. What he agrees to the deal begins to share everything he knows. Less than a month later, on May 4, 2015, Preparar takes the podium in the press room of the offices of the Southern District of New York. Finally puts the whispers and rumors to rest. Today we unseal a criminal complaint against the majority leader of the New York State Senate, Dean Skellos and his son, Adam Skellos, charging them with public corruption offenses. In summary, the complaint charges in six counts that Dean Skellos unlawfully used his power and influence as Senate majority leader repeatedly to illegally enrich his son, Adam, and indirectly himself. Reporters race to call on the story and the news quickly spreads across the state and then the country. We begin with breaking news, the majority leader of the New York State Senate and his son are in FBI custody right now on federal corruption charges. Dean Skellos and his son Adam surrendered his power to aid an environmental company and a big New York developer with the understanding that they steer money toward his son, Adam, around $200,000 all told. The younger Skellos faces similar charges to his father. They are both released pending trial, but it's going to be an anxious wait. The same day, several legislators call for Skellos to step down from his leadership post, but many Republicans close ranks. After a four hour meeting, they assure Skellos he still has their confidence. Skellos tells the press he's staying on for one very simple reason. He's innocent. And then he says it again three more times. But Skellos reprieve doesn't last. On May 11th, under growing pressure, he's asked to step down and agrees. He tells reporters then it was the right decision to step aside. Quite frankly, I think I was somewhat of a distraction. Incredibly, Dean Skellos is the fifth consecutive Senate majority leader to go down in the face of criminal corruption charges. In less than six months, two of the most powerful men in New York State Legislature have been charged with multiple felonies. Six months later, on November 2nd, 2015, Skellos and Skellos corruption trial begins at the third good Marshall Courthouse in Lower Manhattan. A Jason to the District, he still represents. Although Skellos resigned his position as Speaker, he still retains his seat in the assembly, pending the outcome of his trial. If he's convicted, he will immediately be expelled from the legislature. Those are the rules. Rules Silver will have to abide by for a change. He is facing seven corruption charges in all, including extortion, money laundering, and wire fraud. They carry a potential penalty of 130 years in prison. A jury of nine women and three men will determine his fate. Silver arrives at the Courthouse wearing a dark suit, Fedora hat in his hands. Again, photographers are there to greet him. When asked to predict how the trial will go, Silver says firmly, I will be vindicated after a full airing of the facts. In opening statements, federal prosecutors contend that Skellos and Silver is a garden variety crook who sold his office to the highest bidder. They say that over a 10 year span, Silver accepted kickbacks and bribes, totaling nearly $4 million, including money tied to a luxury real estate firm. Silver's attorney vehemently denies the charges. He claims conflicts of interest are just part of the job, but that doesn't mean Silver did anything illegal. Then the prosecution calls its first witness, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin. The attorneys want her to explain to the jury how Albany works. When asked who controlled the committee chairmanship, she says, Silver, staff hires, Silver, seating arrangements, and budget negotiations, Silver. She explains all major legislation, including budget, was done by Silver's office at the behest of Silver himself, only after he finalized it with Cuomo and Skellos. The jury makes furtive glances at one another. Is this really how their state government works? Three days into the trial, the prosecution puts their key witness on the stand. Dr. Robert Taub, the 79 year old cancer researcher, who has been granted immunity. The prosecution contends that Silver secretly funneled state funds to the doctor's clinic in exchange for patient referrals to Silver's law firm, Whites & Luxembourg. Taub avoid die contact with Silver, as he tells the prosecutor about the arrangement. Over the course of several years, he referred nearly two dozen patients, and Silver got him grants for $500,000. He admits he found it peculiar that Silver asked him not to divulge the source of the money, what he needed it to carry on his work. People's lives were at stake, and he was unaware that Silver was getting kickbacks. On day 7 of the trial, prosecutors introduced yet another kickback scheme, a fee sharing arrangement with luxury real estate developer Glenwood Management, the same Glenwood Management who has been helping Barara in his case against Adam and Dean Skellos. The prosecutors show the jury a letter, outlining how Silver's scheme worked. In exchange for a cut of Glenwood's business through a small law firm, Silver used his political influence for favorable legislation. Silver's prospects for an acquittal appear to be diminishing by the day. In closing arguments, prosecutor Andrew Goldstein sums up the government's case by saying, this ladies and gentlemen, was bribery. This was extortion. This was corruption, the real deal, do not let it stand. The defense and cis Silver did nothing illegal, and the charges were a tremendous blow for someone who fought for the people of New York for a long time. After over a week of testinoling, a parade of witnesses, and a significant body of evidence, Silver's reputation and his freedom are in the balance. Now, it's up to the jury. Late in the afternoon on November 30th, Scheldon Silver sits motionless at the defendants table, bookended by his lawyers as the jury members file back into the jury box. At the back of the crowded courtroom, Priperara quietly slips in to hear their decision. The judge asks the four woman if the jury has reached a decision. She tells the court that they have, and then she begins reading each count. And one, after the next, the pronouncement is the same. The jury finds Scheldon Silver guilty. Silver's wife Rosa and his daughters break down and sobs. Silver looks back at them sadly, but there is nothing he can do. Silver's lawyers tell the judge they will file for appeal and ask that Silver remain free on bond. The judge agrees and sets a sentencing date of May 2016, enough time to mount the appeal. But there will be no return to Albany for Scheldon Silver. He is immediately expelled from the assembly. Now all he can do is hope that the appeal process works in his favor or throw himself at the mercy of the court. After congratulating his team, Priperara leaves the courtroom with a spring in his step. When reporters ask for his reaction, he says, today, Scheldon Silver got justice. And at long last, so did the people of New York. But Silver's isn't the only corruption trial happening at this time. As his verdict is handed down, former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skellows is in the third week of his own federal corruption trial, right across the street. He and his son are charged with six felony corruption counts, including conspiracy, bribery and extortion. That two of the state's most powerful elected officials are on trial simultaneously on the same block is unprecedented in New York history, and a testament to the hard work of Priperara's team. When Skellows exits the court room after the day's testimony, he's accosted by reporters who want to know what he thinks of Silver's guilty verdict. He doesn't want to contemplate it. Instead, he points hopefully to former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno, who beat the rap. He says, Joe Bruno was a good friend of mine too. He was acquitted. But deep down, Skellows is worried about the outcome of his trial, about his son's future, and it doesn't look good. On the third day of testimony, the jury hears the wiretap conversations between Dean Skellows and his son. The calls are damning, an inside look into the machinations of the senator's mind as he complained about Cuomo and schemeed about ways to divide the Democrats. But that's small beans compared to the recorded calls that show Skellows using his influence to benefit Adam. The next day, Charles Derego from Glenwood testifies that Skellows badgered him to find a job for his son. Then, when Derego got him the job at Abtec, Adam conspired with Derego to remove Abtec CEO GlenRink from the board and replace him with Adam himself. Even though Adam was caught on tape saying, I literally know nothing about water or any of that stuff. GlenRink gets on the stand too, and talks about the email he got from Derego, saying if Adam wasn't paid more money, their $12 million store water treatment contract with the state might go south. He likened it to a death threat, certainly a death threat to his business. In the coming days, it goes from bad to worse. On day 11, Anthony Bonomo testifies. Bonomo is the CEO of a medical malpractice firm, and Adam's boss at his third no show job. He tells the court he was afraid to fire Adam, even though he had good reasons to want him gone. One, they were paying him $78,000 a year and he hardly ever showed up. Two, when Adam's immediate supervisor told him he needed to come to work at least every once in a while, Adam threatened to smash in his head, saying that guys like him couldn't shine my shoes. But still, Bonomo kept Adam on the payroll, fearing he'd lose access to scalos or worse that the senator would retaliate. For Bonomo, 78 grand a year was just the price of doing business in Albany. Nearly two weeks after the trial began, the government rests its case. In closing arguments, the prosecutor reminds the jury of everything they've heard, testimony from 20 witnesses and recorded conversations between a father and son that add up to a single conclusion. Dean Scalos used one of the most powerful political offices in the state to fund his son's lifestyle, and what he did was extortion. The defense argues that the prosecution has presented little in the way of real evidence other than the lies of a couple of self serving witnesses. They also contend that whatever Dean Scalos did to help his son find employment was never attached to any quid pro quo deal. He was merely a loving father, trying to provide for his son as any father would. It takes the jury two days, but they reach a unanimous verdict. Both Dean and Adam Scalos are guilty of all six charges. Well, Jeff yet another politician is now a convicted felon in that once three men in a room. Well, that's dwindling down to only one tonight this after state Senate majority leader Dean Scalos is found guilty of corruption charges during a federal trial. He was found guilty by a federal jury. New Yorkers are happy to see their state's corrupt politicians finally being held accountable. Less happy are Sheldon Silver and Dean and Adam Scalos who now await sentencing for their crimes. On May 3, 2016, Sheldon Silver is sentenced to 12 years in federal prison. He is also ordered to pay a fine of nearly $2 million in return another $5.3 million in ill gotten gains. Six months later, on December 11, just in time for Christmas, Dean Scalos is given a $500,000 fine and a five year sentence. But Adam gets a little something extra in his stocking when the judge gives him six and a half years. And Adam and his father must forfeit $300,000 the salary from Adam's no show jobs. But this story has one more brief reversal of fortune. As Winter gives way to spring and then summer in 2016, Sheldon Silver and Dean and Adam Scalos get the biggest break of their lives. Just one month after Sheldon Silver is sentenced, the US Supreme Court hands down a ruling that narrows the definition of federal public corruption. As a result, the US District Court of Appeals overturns the convictions of all three men. Looks like the three convicted felons will go free on a technicality. Silver and Scalos can't wait to gloat in the press, praising the wisdom of the Supreme Court and thanking their attorneys for proving their innocence. The dark cloud of despair has lifted, but the blue skies don't last very long. Prit Bharara immediately announces that his office will retry all three men and he is confident that he'll get convictions again. By the time Silver's retrial rolls around in May of 2018, Prit Bharara is no longer the US attorney for the Southern District. On March 11, 2017, President Donald Trump fires Bharara along with 45 other federal prosecutors appointed by the Obama administration after he refuses to resign. But the Southern District is not an entity that depends on only one man. They press forward. On May 18, 2018, after a two week long trial, the jury files back into the courtroom with their verdict. Shell and Silver, now 74 years old, is found guilty on all seven counts again. The judge allows Silver to remain free on bond until sentencing. Silver later writes a letter to the judge, begging for mercy, saying he's sorry and claiming that he has already lost everything. He's been punished enough and he's afraid of dying in jail. What he apparently doesn't do though, is admit to any crimes. At the sentencing hearing, Silver's attorney suggests probation and community service. It's a nice Hail Mary, but unsuccessful. Judge Valerie Caproni calls Silver's crimes a case of unmitigated greed and then hands down a sentence of seven years. But Silver won't yet see the inside of a cell. A federal appeals court decide Silver can remain free on bail until his attorney's appeal. They have until December 3, 2018. If the court takes up his appeal, Silver might again slip free. But if they don't, Silver will finally have to surrender and serve his time. Dean and Adam Scalos don't fare any better in their retrials. Both are found guilty of all the original corruption charges. Scalos begs for leniency. And the judge grants it, sort of. On October 24, 2018, the 70 year old Dean Scalos has sentenced to four years and three months in prison, nine months less than his first sentence. When handing down her sentence, the judge tells him, you did immeasurable damage to New York citizens confidence in the integrity of their government. His son, Adam does not come to court to see his father. It's reported that their relationship is strained. Scalos, looking sad and tired, claims remorse, especially for the harm he causes family. He says to the judge, I apologize with all my soul, Your Honor. And then, with his voice cracking, he asks for mercy for his son. My son, Adam, I love him more today than yesterday. I always try to protect him and I failed. Although our relationship is strained, I hope one day it will be restored. Scalos remains free on bail as his lawyers get to work appealing the second conviction. If it's denied, Scalos will have to surrender on January 8, 2019. As separate hearing later that afternoon, Adam Scalos also asks for leniency, citing progress in his battle with substance abuse. He tells the judge that he and his new fiancé are expecting a baby. He also says he's truly remorseful. The judge appears to believe him. She sentences him to four years, a two year reduction from the previous judgment. Both Dean and his son are free on bail and in appeal. When asked about his father, Adam tells reporters, we don't talk anymore. That's a loss I thought I would only experience in death. On the heels of the Scalos sentencing, a familiar refrain echoes through the halls of Albany. Senators Chastis Scalos, calling his actions an abuse of public trust. Lawmakers feverishly promised to root out corruption, protect taxpayer money, improve state laws. One senator takes the opportunity to make a bold, if very familiar statement. Improvements must immediately be made to state law, to strengthen our corruption laws, and to empower local prosecutors to go after dirty politicians. The time for reform in New York State was yesterday. Since 2006, more elected officials have been convicted of corruption in the state of New York than in any other state. In 2018 alone, seven legislators have been convicted of crimes. No significant ethics reform laws have been passed. Andrew Cuomo is still the governor, and it's still, this instance as usual, in Albany. From Wondery, this is episode four of five of New York State of Crime for American Scandal. On the next episode, I'll be talking to filmmaker Alex Gibney about his documentary, Client 9, detailing the rise and fall of Elliott Spitzer. If you'd like to learn more about corruption in Albany, we recommend the New York Times three month investigation into why the Moreland Commission ended so abruptly. This episode contains reenactments and traumatized details, and while in most cases we can't know exactly what was said, all our traumatizations are based on historical research. American Scandal is hosted, edited, sound design, and executive produced by me, Lindsey Graham for Airship. Additional production assistance by Derek Barrett. This episode is written by Michael Burr. Our consultant is longtime Albany journalist Jay Jocknobbins. Executive producers are Stephanie Jenns, Marshall Lewey, and Herdan Lopez for Wondery.