Matthew T. Libous, who served six months in prison for cheating on his taxes in a case that also ensnared his father, the late Thomas M. Libous, a once powerful state senator, is getting closer to his goal of reapplying for a law license.
On April 5, a state Appellate Court suspended Matthew Libous’ law license for one year, but in making the discipline retroactive the court left open the possibility that he could reapply at any time.
“I’m very thankful for the ruling,” Libous said. “I’m grateful, I’m joyful, I’m excited about getting back into law. It looks like they’re giving me that chance, so I’m taking advantage of that opportunity.”
Libous quickly landed law jobs after he graduated from law school. He worked in the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office and then the New York State Liquidation Bureau. In 2006, he was hired by Santangelo Randazzo & Mangone in Hawthorne.
It was his father, then Sen. Thomas Libous, who helped him get that job, eventually putting the family under a spotlight.
The Republican senator from Binghamton arranged the job in exchange for a promise to steer future business to the law firm, according to a 2014 federal indictment. And he arranged for an Albany lobbying firm to pay the law firm $50,000 a year to defray his son’s salary and to lease a Range Rover for his son.
The elder Libous was convicted in 2015 of making false statements to the FBI. U.S. District Court Judge Vincent L. Briccetti sentenced him to house arrest for six months, two years of probation and a $50,000 fine.
The senator, who had risen to deputy majority leader, resigned in his fourteenth term. He died of prostate cancer less than a year after his conviction.
A federal grand jury indicted Matthew Libous in 2014 on several tax charges. The government said he failed to report income from his legal work. From 2008 to 2012, when he ran Wireless Construction Solutions, a Westchester company that installed cellular telephone towers, he had the company pay personal expenses. According to the indictment, expenses included casino trips, vacations, gym memberships, an internet dating service, spa treatments, tanning salon visits, clothing, food and student loan debt.
In all, the government said he underreported his income by $338,250 from 2007 to 2011.
Briccetti found him guilty of three charges of subscribing to a false tax return, but found him not guilty of four charges. He sentenced him to six months at the Federal Correctional Institution at Fort Dix in New Jersey.
Just four days before his release on Jan. 29, 2016, the state Supreme Court Appellate Division suspended Libous’ law license for a year. The court authorized a disciplinary proceeding and appointed a special referee to report on the case.
On April 5, the Appellate Court accepted the referee’s report that Libous was guilty of professional misconduct.
The referee concluded that Libous had rehabilitated himself, was remorseful and would not make the same mistake twice.
The court suspended him from the practice of law for one year, but made the penalty retroactive to the January 2016 suspension. The suspension will continue until further order of the court.
Libous said it could take a year for him to get his license back.
When he applies for reinstatement, he must prove that he has not tried to practice law during his suspension, complied with other rules governing suspended attorneys and “otherwise properly conducted himself.”
Libous works with his church now, manages an upstate construction company and lives in New Jersey.
Prison is a “very dark place” he said, but the support he got from his wife, family and friends, and above all his relationship with Jesus, got him through the ordeal.
“I don’t feel like a day of my life was wasted,” he said. “It was very humbling, but it reminded me of the common thread we all have. We’re all human and we’re all fallible.”