In a town still reeling from former Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s fall from grace, the feds have taken aim at another of Albany’s brahmins: top Republican Dean Skelos.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said “stay tuned” after indicting Silver in January. And now we know who may be next on his hit list.
Skelos, the powerful president of the New York State Senate and, like Silver, a longtime Albany power broker, is under the microscope, The New York Times reported in Thursday’s newspaper.
A grand jury is examining evidence in a possible case against Skelos, 67, and his son, Adam Skelos, 32, according to the Times.
Specifically, the feds are looking at the younger Skelos’ business dealings and his hiring by an Arizona company that won a local government contract in New York, although it was not the low bidder.
A $20,000 signing bonus from a title insurance company that never employed him, is also part of the probe.
Bharara’s office wants to know whether the elder Skelos, of Rockville Centre, Long Island, used his sway to help AbTech Industries score a $12 million sewer treatment contract from his home New York county of Nassau.
“I have and will continue to cooperate with any inquiry,” Skelos said in a statement.
News of the grand jury investigation comes as Albany is still shell shocked by the case against the 71-year-old Silver, who was booted by Dems from the speakership but is still an assemblyman from Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
The question now: Who’s next?
The New York Post’s veteran Albany scribe Fred Dicker has written that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is “on edge” because of the shadow Bharara’s cast over Albany. Cuomo is “freaked-out and furious,” Dicker wrote, and “obsessed with fear.’’
Bharara has openly criticized Cuomo’s decision to disband the Moreland Commission, a panel established to investigate what The Post’s Michael Goodwin calls “Albany’s rotten pay-to-play culture.”
The panel was reportedly stonewalled when it started looking into Silver’s business dealings. And then, out of the blue, Cuomo shut the whole thing down. Bharara has repeatedly criticized the move.
Observers have also noted that Bharara’s Silver takedown came on the same day as Cuomo’s State of the State address, something Dicker said really irked the governor.
The prosecutor has also slammed Albany’s so-called “three men in a room” reputation, the long reality that power is centered with the governor, speaker, and head of the state senate.
Follow Metro Editor-at-large John A. Oswald on Twitter – @nyc_oz.