Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the Albany State Legislature turned himself in this morning to the FBI.
In a pay to play scheme, the most powerful Progressive in New York State for more than two decades pursuant to a five-count sealed 35 page criminal complaint (at bottom of post along with the affidavit of seizure for Silver’s assets) been charged with pocketing an estimated $6 million in bribes, kickbacks and charged with mail and wire fraud.
Pay to Play – Backroom Deals
The kickbacks were masked “as referral fees from a law firm; funneling state research funds and other benefits to a doctor who in return referred asbestos claims to the law firm where the speaker worked; and secretly helping real estate developers win tax breaks.”
It is no surprise that those Progressives who may have at one time or another collaborated with Silver have thrown their full support behind the thug.
Until now, Silver has been the Teflon don of the Albany State legislature and dating back approximately two decades he knows where the bodies are buried. However, with New York politics being as dog eat dog as it is, within hours of being charged, Republicans are not the only ones calling for Silver to resign.
Also, celebrating Silver’s arrest would be the Ultimate Fighting Championship (“UFC”) that has been pushing to no avail for Silver to put a bill up on the State Assembly floor “that would legalize mixed martial arts fights in New York state.”
Silver refused to put the bill up for a vote in spite of the millions in revenue that UFC events would generate leaving NYS the only state to “ban MMA and UFC fight events. The MMA bill was endorsed by the New York State Senate.”
The Southern District of New York State Attorney’s Office issued the following press release.
Allegedly Used Official Position to Obtain $4 Million in Bribes and Kickbacks Concealed as Income From Outside Law Practice (edited)
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Richard Frankel, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Criminal Division of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that New York State Assembly Speaker SHELDON SILVER was arrested this morning on charges that he used his official position to receive nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks from people and businesses in exchange for his official acts, and that SILVER masked these payments from public view by disguising the payments as income from what he claimed was a law practice primarily focused on personal injury matters. SILVER was placed under arrest at the FBI in lower Manhattan, this morning, and is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas in Manhattan federal court later today. Judge Maas also issued seizure warrants to prevent SILVER from accessing approximately $3.8 million in proceeds alleged to be traceable to the charged corruption offenses until the case is resolved.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Over his decades in office, Speaker Silver has amassed titanic political power. But, as alleged, during that same time, Silver also amassed a tremendous personal fortune – through the abuse of that political power. All told, we allege that Silver corruptly collected some $4 million in bribes and kickbacks disguised as ‘referral fees.’ Those disguised bribes and kickbacks account for approximately two-thirds of all of Silver’s outside income since 2002.
“As today’s charges make clear, the show-me-the-money culture of Albany has been perpetuated and promoted at the very top of the political food chain. And as the charges also show, the greedy art of secret self-reward was practiced with particular cleverness and cynicism by the Speaker himself. Among other things, we allege that Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the New York State Assembly, was on retainer to a mammoth real estate developer at the very same time that the chamber he dominates was considering and passing legislation vitally affecting the bottom line of that developer; at the very same time that he was hearing out lobbyists paid by that developer and at the very same time that he was deliberately keeping secret from the public any information about this lucrative side-deal, in violation of the law….
SILVER never disclosed his relationship with the Real Estate Law Firm or any work beyond what he claimed was a “personal injury” practice.
SILVER also repeatedly made false statements about his outside income in his public statements, including the following:
SILVER claimed he performed legal work consisting of spending several hours each week evaluating legal matters brought to him by potential clients and then referring cases that appeared to have merit to lawyers at Weitz & Luxenberg. In fact, SILVER did no such work on the asbestos cases and obtained those referrals to Weitz & Luxenberg based on his corrupt arrangement with Doctor-1.
SILVER claimed his law practice involved the representation of “plain, ordinary simple people.” In fact, SILVER represented some of the largest real estate developers in the State of New York, whose interests are in many ways dependent on state legislation.
SILVER claimed through his spokesperson that SILVER found clients by virtue of his having been a “lawyer for more than 40 years,” in a manner that was “not unlike any other attorney in this state, anywhere.” In fact, SILVER found his lucrative asbestos and real estate developer clients solely by virtue of his official position.
SILVER recently stated through his spokesperson that “[n]one of his clients have any business before the state.” In fact, SILVER’s outside income included millions of dollars of fees obtained through real estate developers with significant business before the state and a prominent physician to whose benefit SILVER provided state funding and other benefits related to SILVER’s official position.
Finally, SILVER thwarted the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption so that it would not learn of his illegal outside income, first by filing legal motions on behalf of the Assembly and taking other action to block the Moreland Commission’s investigation into legislative outside income and then by negotiating with the Governor of New York to prematurely terminate the Moreland Commission.
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SILVER, 70, of New York, New York, is charged with two counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, one count of extortion under color of official right, and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right. Each of these five counts carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the work of the Criminal Investigators of the United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI, who jointly conducted this investigation. Mr. Bharara also noted that the investigation is continuing.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Howard S. Master, Carrie H. Cohen, Andrew D. Goldstein, and James McDonald are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The FBI’s press release can be read here.