Written by Reuters
Federal prosecutors on Tuesday are expected to rest their case in the corruption trial of former New York state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, the second high-profile lawmaker to stand trial in recent weeks for abusing his office.
Skelos’ lawyer, Robert Gage, would not rule out calling his client to the stand to testify in his own defense.
"With regard to Senator Skelos, we think that decision is properly made at the close of the government's case," Gage said in federal court in Manhattan on Monday.
If Skelos declines to testify, closing arguments would likely come later on Tuesday. His son, Adam Skelos, who is also a defendant, has already decided not to take the stand, according to his lawyers.
Skelos, 67, a Republican, is accused of strong-arming three companies to pay his son more than $300,000, knowing that they could not refuse given his ability to influence policy critical to their operations.
His Democratic Party counterpart in the state Assembly, former Speaker Sheldon Silver, was convicted last week in the same federal court of collecting millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.
Together, the Silver and Skelos prosecutions represent the high point thus far of a broad campaign by Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, to root out corruption in the state capital of Albany.
Silver and Skelos were two-thirds of the so-called “three men in a room,” along with the governor, who wield virtually absolute power over the state budget and important legislation.
In both cases, defense lawyers have argued that prosecutors are overreaching.
"The government is trying to turn a very normal father-son relationship into a crime just because of who his father is," Christopher Conniff, Adam Skelos’ lawyer, said in his opening statement last month.