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Fallen senate leader Skelos wins release after coronavirus diagnosis

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Former state Sen. Dean Skelos has tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and will serve the remainder of his prison term at home.

That's according to court papers filed Wednesday on behalf of the former senate majority leader, who was once instrumental in giving former Sen. Jeffrey Klein's renegade Democrats power with the Republicans.

Skelos, 72, was reportedly in quarantine at the federal prison in Otisville, according to documents filed in federal court in Manhattan, and has been symptom-free since April 8. Prosecutors said that medical authorities at the prison have cleared his release. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons said Skelos is expected to be approved for furlough and home confinement once the U.S. Probation Department has approved his proposed residence.

A release date has not been set. 

Late last month, Skelos requested early release citing fear of contracting the virus after another inmate tested positive. The motion, filed under seal, was opposed by federal prosecutors in papers filed publicly, citing that an application for release must first be filed with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, which can better assess his health situation. His medical condition was not made public at that point.

Skelos has more than two years left on his 51-month sentece for extortion, wire fraud and bribery. He was convicted in July 2017 of using his political power to secure approximately $300,000 in jobs and fees for his son, Adam. They were each convicted on eight counts of conspiracy, extortion ad bribery. Adam Skelos was sentenced to four years in prison. 

Skelos stepped down from his senate leadership position in 2015 as the corruption scandal came to light. Skelos was leading Republicans when Klein and three other senators bolted from the Democratic caucus to create the Independent Democratic Conference, providing support to senate Republicans after Skelos offered the four standing committee chairmanships.

Klein's name came up more than once in filings during Skelo's corruption trial, including a client referral to Klein in his role as a lawyer, and discussion by Skelos about how his alliance with Klein kept senate Democrats in disarray.

Klein was never accused of any wrongdoing during the scandal. He would be defeated in 2018 by political upstart Alessandra Biaggi, part of an overall purging of former IDC senators in the upper chamber. 

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