Federal Judge Declines to Dismiss Sheldon Silver Charges
A Manhattan judge yesterday denied Lower East Side Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s third attempt to get federal corruption charges dismissed.
In his filing, Silver argued that the extortion charges he faces are not crimes but simple “coercion” and that, at worst, allegations that he took kickbacks amount to “conflicts of interest.” In an 18-page ruling, Judge Valerie Caponi wrote, “None of Silver’s arguments is persuasive… Evidence that Silver went to lengths to conceal his allegedly ill-gotten gains is evidence both of Silver’s knowledge that the money that he received constituted ‘criminally derived property’ … and evidence of Silver’s consciousness of guilt regarding his allegedly fraudulent and extortionate activities.” The judge added, “The allegations in the superseding indictment do not make Silver look like a boy scout.”
The court did order U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to provide Silver’s legal team with a more complete summary of the evidence against the former Assembly speaker.
In April, Caproni rejected another motion to dismiss the charges after Silver argued that Bharara’s public comments following his January arrest tainted the jury pool. She did, however, scold the prosecutor for his conduct.
Defense attorney Joel Cohen said, “We’re in the process of studying the judge’s opinion and, as before, we look forward to a trial of this case in which Mr. Silver will clear his name.” Silver is charged seven counts, including mail and wire fraud, extortion and money laundering. His trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 2.
Silver relinquished his leadership position earlier this year but remains a member of the Assembly.