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July 1, 2014

Libous indicted on felony charge of lying to the FBI

Sen. Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, was indicted today by federal authorities on a  felony charge of making false statements to the FBI in 2010.

Libous, who serves as the state Senate's deputy Republican conference leader for legislative operations, has been the subject of an investigation into an employment arrangement his son, Matthew, had with a high-powered lobbying firm.

At the time of the alleged false statements, Libous, 61, was representing Delaware, Chenango, Broome and Tioga counties.

Libous is known as one of the natural gas industry’s leading proponents in the state Senate. The indictment comes one day after the natural gas industry was dealt a significant setback when the state's highest court upheld the authority of local municipalities in New York to zone out gas and oil production.

The energy industry has signaled it wants permits to bring horizontal hydraulic fracturing rigs to New York though state officials have delayed a decision on whether to allow the controversial technique for extracting trapped shale gas. 

The indictment states that Sen. Libous, while being interviewed by an FBI agent, "knowingly and did willfully falsify, conceal and cover up material facts by trick, scheme and device and did make materially false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and representations" to an FBI agent who questioned.

At the time, the FBI was investigating allegations that Libous had promised to steer future business to a law firm that employed his son, prompting the firm to boost the son's salary by $50,000 annually and to pay for the lease of a Range Rover for the son, "the payments for which Libous guaranteed," the indictment states.

The indictment also states that the FBI and IRS were investigating allegations that Senator Libous told a partner of the law firm in question that "the firm would 'have to build a new wing' to accommodate the business it would receive if it hired his son."

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