NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A real estate company executive testified Thursday that he felt badgered and uncomfortable when he got what he believed to be inappropriate requests from a temperamental former New York Senate leader to help his son.
Charles Dorego, testifying for a second day in Manhattan U.S. District Court at the corruption trial of Sen. Dean Skelos, 57, and his 33-year-old son, Adam, said he hoped the requests would go away but felt obligated to do something when they did not.
Dorego said he had seen the angry side of the Republican state senator when he once berated him on the phone and another time when he promised revenge after a real estate board hired a Democratic consultant.
“I didn’t want him to get angry with me or us,” he said. “I heard that he had a temper and I didn’t want to raise it.”
Prosecutors say the senator arranged for more than $300,000 in revenue for his son in return for contributions and help with legislation favorable to business. Defense lawyers have said the government is unjustly criminalizing politics and a typical father-son relationship.
Dorego said he and other executives at Manhattan real estate development company Glenwood Management, including its principal, Leonard Litwin, were subjected to repeated requests by the senator to help his son.
The requests began, he said, after a coffee meeting on Dec. 20, 2010, when the senator and Glenwood executives were celebrating because Republicans had regained control of the state’s Senate.
Dorego said Litwin was getting up to leave the meeting when Skelos approached him and said his son was beginning new work and “anything we could do to help out would be greatly appreciated.”
Dorego said he thought it was a peculiar request since the meeting had been called so Skelos could thank Litwin for his support to Republicans in the election and because Skelos was involved with legislation that was significant to the company, one of New York’s biggest residential developers.
“I thought it might be inappropriate,” Dorego said. He said Litwin suggested they do nothing.
He said he eventually agreed to meet Adam Skelos for an early dinner in February 2011, when the son said he was hoping Glenwood would consider using the title company and energy purchasing businesses with which he was associated.
Afterward, Dorego said, he again did nothing.
“I was hoping we were not going to get any more requests and that the request would go away,” he said.
By July 2012, the senator was still pressing the issue, the witness said.
“He was friendly but firm. I just felt like we were being a bit badgered at this point,” Dorego said.
After continued pressure from the senator and his son, Dorego said, he eventually put Adam Skelos in touch with AbTech Industries, an Arizona company that eventually paid him as a consultant.
The elder Skelos stepped down from his leadership post following his arrest, but continues to serve in the Senate.
Dean and Adam Skelos have pleaded not guilty, and their lawyers have told jurors they did not act illegally.
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