A federal judge was not persuaded by former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ complaints about U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s public comments.
An attorney for Skelos, who is awaiting trial on corruption charges, filed a letter Wednesday with U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, asking the judge to order a hearing on recent comments by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara about public corruption and whether they unfairly tainted Skelos’ defense team.
It didn’t take long for Wood to reject Skelos’ argument.
“The remarks that are the subject of this letter are too generalized to support the relief sought by defendents,” Wood wrote Thursday. “Denied.”
The letter from Skelos’ attorney, G. Robert Gage, focused largely on Bharara’s comments last week at New York University, as well as a Politics on the Hudson post recapping the prosecutors’ remarks. It was first reported Friday by Capital Tonight.
Specifically, Gage took issue with Bharara saying criticism of his willingness to publicly discuss public corruption often comes from cases involving “very, very, very sophisticated and high-priced lawyers” who can “afford to make accusations like that.”
Bharara never mentioned Skelos by name, and was asked broadly about the high-profile corruption cases he’s brought. Along with Skelos, Bharara’s office is prosecuting now-former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan.
“So to answer questions about why it’s happening — why is there corruption in Albany or the city council or anywhere else, and what ordinary people can do to make it better and to raise public awareness of this problem — I think is completely appropriate,” Bharara said last week. “And I would be in some ways remiss if I didn’t talk about these things.”
Skelos, R-Nassau County, is accused of using his influence to get his son a job with an Arizona-based environmental company with ties to a major New York developer, as well as helping to steer a Nassau County contract to the company. He has maintained his innocence.
His trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 16.