Sheldon Silver Trial Will Center on Testimony From Cancer Researcher

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A final hearing was held yesterday ahead of Lower East Side Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s federal corruption trial, which is scheduled to begin November 2. Here’s a summary:

–Judge Valerie Caproni said she expects the trial to last up to six weeks.  According to Newsday, she has ordered a pool of 70 prospective jurors. Prosecutors anticipate introducing up to 1500 documents into evidence.

–During the hearing, Caproni said she would allow the U.S. Attorney to show jurors emails from Dr. Robert Taub in which he discusses negative feelings for Weitz & Luxemberg, Sheldon Silver’s former law firm. Prosecutors allege that Taub, a cancer researcher, sent business to the law firm only because Silver secured state grants for Taub’s research at Columbia University. Here’s the Post’s account of yesterday’s give-and-take between the judge and lawyers on the issue:

Silver defense attorneys want to keep the jury from seeing a 2010 email Dr. Robert Taub wrote about his dislike for the ​once-powerful ​politician’s law firm and how he only referred patients there because of his “quid pro quo” relationship with Silver. “So Dr. Taub is going to testify he didn’t like Weitz & Luxenberg, they were buying private jets, they weren’t donating to cancer research, but he was referring patients there because Silver was getting him state money. Is that a fair summary of his testimony?” Manhattan federal court judge Valerie Caproni said in court. “It is, Your Honor,” ​an ​assistant US attorney ​answered. “It’ll take much longer [than that], I’m sure,” Caproni quipped. The judge said that she wouldn’t allow prosecutors to introduce the Taub email when the trial first begins. But when the doctor takes the stand to testify against Silver and the politiican’s defense attorneys then try to undermine his credibility on cross-examination, she would then allow prosecutors to introduce the email with all its damning implications.

–Upon leaving court, Silver expressed confidence in his acquittal, saying “I believe I will be vindicated after this trial.” He added, “This case should be tried in the courtroom, not in the press.”

Sheldon Silver is charged with seven counts, including mail and wire fraud, extortion and money laundering. Prosecutors allege that he collected $4 million in illegitimate legal fees. While he resigned as speaker last January, Silver continues to serve as assemblyman in Lower Manhattan.