By Curtis Skinner
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A powerful Republican New York state senator has been indicted on a charge of lying to the FBI during an investigation into a business deal involving his son, according to court documents unsealed on Tuesday.
Thomas Libous, the deputy majority leader in the New York Senate, was under investigation for allegedly telling an unnamed law firm that it would have to “build a new wing” to handle all the extra business he would bring the firm in exchange for hiring his son Matthew Libous, said the indictment secured by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Libous was indicted on a charge of giving a false statement to the FBI and his arraignment was set for later on Tuesday.
A separate indictment was unsealed for Matthew Libous, claiming he failed to report some $280,000 worth of income on his taxes between 2007 and 2011. He was arraigned Tuesday on a single count of obstructing the Internal Revenue Service and five counts of filing false tax returns, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
Agents began assisting a federal grand jury investigation of Thomas Libous in March 2010, the indictment said. Part of the investigation involved reviewing whether Libous had a lobbying firm pay the law office $50,000 annually to supplement his son’s salary, according to the indictment.
In June, FBI special agents interviewed Libous as part of the investigation and he said he had no knowledge of how his son got his job and he never promised to refer business to the firm, the indictment said.
“Rather than serve the public he took an oath to serve, Senator Libous used his political position to garner favorable treatment for himself and his son,” assistant FBI Director George Venizelos said in a statement.
Libous, who has prostate cancer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. He was first elected to the Senate in 1988 and represents the upstate counties of Broome, Tioga, Chenango and Delaware.Libous is the latest in a long line of state lawmakers to face recent criminal or ethics charges. Last week, freshman New York Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa, who was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, gave up her seat and pleaded guilty to entering into a sham marriage to gain U.S. citizenship.
(Additional reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York, Editing by Barbara Goldberg)