The jury has been selected for Sheldon Silver’s retrial on federal corruption charges.
According to the New York Post, the 12-person panel includes a retired flight attendant, a retired teacher and a nurse in Mt. Sinai’s critical care department. It was a fairly simple process. Judge Valerie Caproni wrapped up jury selection in a single day yesterday. Opening statements, however, won’t begin until April 30 because a key witness is dealing with a medical situation.
Silver, the former Lower East Side assemblyman, was convicted in a kickback and bribery scheme in 2015. But the verdict was thrown out after the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the legal definition of public corruption.
A lot has changed since the original trial. Yesterday at the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan the former assembly speaker’s case was little more than an afterthought. That’s because the media world was consumed by the Michael Cohen-Stormy Daniels Show.
Sheldon Silver, 2016.
There have been complications in the retrial of former Lower East Side Assemblyman Sheldon Silver.
The trial was scheduled to begin next week, April 16. But during a hearing yesterday, Federal Judge Valerie Caproni revealed that the prosecution’s most important witness, Dr. Robert Taub, is dealing with an unspecified medical situation. He may require surgery, and won’t be available to take the stand until later in the month.
The judge plans to go ahead with jury selection next week. But according to Newsday, opening statements won’t occur until April 23 at the earliest. Federal prosecutors have requested a two week delay.
Silver is accused in a $4 million alleged bribery and kickback scheme. His 2015 conviction was thrown out by an appeals court due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s narrowing of the public corruption statute. In the first trial, Taub testified that he received $500,000 in state grants when Silver was the powerful speaker of the State Assembly. He then referred cancer patients to a law firm, which paid Silver referral fees.
Also at Tuesday’s hearing, the judge rejected motions from the defense to toss out evidence regarding favors performed by Silver. The Supreme Court ruling requires prosecutors to show that any quid-pro-quo scheme by elected officials includes “official acts.” Judge Caproni ruled that prosecutors can introduce circumstantial evidence regarding favors by Silver as part of their larger case.
Silver, 74, was sentenced to 12 years in prison following the first trial. The retrial is expected to take up to six weeks.
Sheldon Silver at the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan. November 2015.
The retrial of former Lower East Side Assemblyman Sheldon Silver on federal corruption charges is set to begin next week.
Silver was convicted in a $4 million bribery and kickback scheme in 2015, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. But an appeals court threw out the conviction last year, after the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the definition of public corruption under federal law. Silver has not served any jail time.
This past week, the Daily News spoke with a juror in the original case, who said he regretted his decision to convict Silver, the former assembly speaker. Kenneth Graham, a taxi driver from the Bronx, said, “When you are on a jury, sometimes you gotta do what the rest of them do… I think they should set him free.”
During deliberations, Graham asked to be removed from the jury, saying he’d recently learned that the owner of the medallion cab he drove was a close friend of Silver. The judge, Valerie Caproni, rejected his request. Graham told the News last week that other jurors pressured him into voting to convict, but they he would have held out if given a second chance.
In a separate story, the Wall Street Journal looks at the prospects of a successful prosecution of Silver in the second trial. It will be watched nationwide as a test case, indicating how much federal law has been weakened in public corruption cases.
Prosecutors say Silver funneled state grants to a cancer researcher who then sent patients to a law firm, which paid Silver referral fees. In another alleged scheme, Silver was accused of accepting bribes in exchange for enacting tax breaks that helped a Manhattan real estate firm.
The evidence was enough for the jury to find Silver guilty of quid-pro-quo arrangements. But in a 2016 ruling in a Virginia case, the high court said “official acts” by an elected official had to include specific use of government power, rather than acts that could be perceived as “constituent services.” Silver and Dean Skelos, the former majority leader in the State Senate, were both convicted at around the same time. Both verdicts were later invalidated. The Journal speculated about what to expect the second time around:
“People are looking to the Silver and Skelos retrials to understand whether and when prosecutors can secure convictions in cases beyond paradigmatic bribery,” said Kelly Kramer, a defense attorney at firm Mayer Brown who isn’t involved in either case… Legal experts say the former lawmakers’ second trials will likely be similar in substance to the first ones. Retrials typically favor the prosecution, which carries the burden of proof, said Daniel R. Alonso, a former federal prosecutor and current managing director at compliance risk-consulting firm Exiger. “They will have seen which witnesses play well with the jury and which don’t,” he said.
Silver’s trial is set for April 16.
Sheldon Silver. File photo.
A federal judge yesterday rejected Sheldon Silver’s latest attempt to avoid a spring retrial. Judge Valerie Caproni yesterday dismissed arguments made by the former Lower East Side assemblyman. The new trial on public corruption charges is scheduled to begin April 16.
An appeals court last year threw out the original 2015 conviction and 12 year prison sentence after the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the definition of public corruption. Silver asked the high court to block a retrial, but it refused.
Silver stands accused in a $4 million alleged bribery and kickback scheme. In their arguments to Judge Caproni, his lawyers asserted that prosecutors failed to prove that Silver engaged in a quid-pro-quo racket. The attorneys also claimed that some of the alleged offenses did not occur within the five year statute of limitations. Caproni said the arguments from Silver’s team, “run counter to the law.”
Silver has been free on bail since his arrest in January of 2015. He was forced from his lofty perch in the state assembly following the initial conviction more than two years ago.
The retrial of former Lower East Side Assemblyman Sheldon Silver is set for April 16. At a hearing yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni declined to delay the start date, even though Silver is changing attorneys.
Silver’s 2015 conviction on federal corruption charges was thrown out by an appeals court last year. While a U.S. Supreme Court ruling invalidated the original verdict, the high court recently declined to dismiss Silver’s case altogether.
High priced defense attorneys Steve Molo and Joel Cohen will not be representing Silver in the retrial. This time around, Michael Feldberg will be defending the former assembly speaker. Molo and Cohen told the Daily News that the change was made because defending these types of cases is, “incredibly expensive” and “Mr. Silver’s assets have been frozen for three years.”
After leaving the courthouse, Silver expressed confidence in his legal prospects, saying, “I believe justice will prevail.”
Silver was convicted on charges that he performed “official acts” in exchange for about $4 million in illicit legal fees. The appeals court ruled that Caproni’s jury instructions were flawed in light of the Supreme Court ruling.
Sheldon Silver at the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan. November 2015.
The U.S. Supreme Court today rejected former New York State Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s request for an appeal. The decision means his retrial on federal corruption charges will likely go ahead as scheduled this coming spring.
In November of 2015, the former Lower East Side power broker was convicted on public corruption charges. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but remained free while the appeals process ran its course. Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overturned the conviction and sent the case back for retrial. The appeals court found fault with the trial judge’s jury instructions in the aftermath of a supreme court case that weakened federal prosecutors’ hand in corruption cases. Silver filed the appeal with the high court in an effort to prevent a new trial.
Silver, a life-long Lower East Side resident, represented Lower Manhattan in the state assembly for four decades and had served as speaker of the assembly for more than 20 years. He was removed from office as a result of the 2015 conviction.
The retrial is tentatively scheduled to begin April 16.
On Friday, the U.S. Attorney filed a request to retry former Lower East Side Assemblyman Sheldon Silver on federal corruption charges in the spring of 2018.
Just a day earlier, a federal appeals court announced that Silver’s retrial would be delayed to give the onetime speaker of the New York State Assembly time to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The original guilty verdict was thrown out last month.
“Given the logistical challenges associated with scheduling a month-long trial,” prosecutors wrote, “the Government requests that the Court set a tentative re-trial date in March, April or early May 2018 to permit the parties and the re-try this case in a reasonable time period should the Supreme Court deny the defendant’s petition.” Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim accuses Silver’s legal team of using delay tactics that could jeopardize the government’s case. The prosecution’s star witness, cancer doctor Robert Taub, is 81.
Silver was convicted in connection with a $4 million bribery scheme and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the conviction due to improper jury instructions.
It’s a big week for former Lower East Side Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, who’s appealing his conviction on federal corruption charges. Lawyers for the former New York State power broker will lay out their case during a Thursday hearing before the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison in May of last year. A jury found him guilty of collecting $4 million in illicit payments and bribes. Silver’s legal team believes a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a Virginia case has invalidated the verdict. They will argue that the trial court judge, Valerie Caproni, erred in her jury instructions, which defined “official action” allegedly taken by Silver in exchange for the payments.
Silver was, of course, prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired by President Trump’s Justice Department over the weekend after refusing to resign his position (all 46 Obama-era states attorneys were told to step down). Bharara did not try the case against Silver. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Goldstein led the government’s prosecution. He’ll take the lead again on Thursday.
Sheldon Silver at the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan during his trial.
Sheldon Silver will remain a free man for at least a few more weeks. He was supposed to start serving a 12-year prison sentence at the end of this month after being convicted on federal corruption charges. Judge Valerie Caproni today set a new schedule for the former Lower East Side assemblyman’s case.
Silver’s attorneys asked the judge to allow him to stay out of prison while appealing the conviction. They believe his appeal gained more traction after the U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned a Virginia corruption case.
The judge has not decided on the appeal just yet. If she rules against the former speaker, he is widely expected to appeal to a higher court. Silver would not be required to surrender and pay $6.6 million in fines until 14 days after the appeals court decision, or Oct. 27, whichever date is later.
Silver was convicted late last year of fraud, extortion and money laundering.
UPDATE 11 p.m. Later in the day on Thursday, Judge Caproni ruled that Silver may delay reporting to federal prison until his appeal is considered. The New York Times reported:
Prosecutors had charged that Mr. Silver had obtained nearly $4 million in illicit payments and bribes in return for official actions that benefited a prominent cancer researcher at Columbia University and two real estate developers. Judge Caproni, in her opinion, made it clear she believed that Mr. Silver had engaged in such conduct. “There is no question that Silver took a number of official acts — most obviously passing legislation and approving state grants and tax-exempt financing — as part of a quid pro quo” in two schemes, she wrote. But, citing the recent (U.S. Supreme Court) decision, she added that there was a “substantial question” whether the court’s instructions to the jury, which defined official action, were in error, and if so, whether that error was harmless.
Silver’s lawyers, Joel Cohen and Steven F. Molo, said in a statement: “We are grateful that the trial judge agreed there is now a substantial legal question about the conviction. We look forward to vigorously pursuing Mr. Silver’s appeal.”
Sheldon Silver at the federal courthouse on Foley Square during his trial last year.
Some potential good news for former Lower East Side assemblyman Sheldon Silver. A ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court could lead to a successful appeal of his conviction last year on federal corruption charges.
This morning, the justices issued a unanimous ruling — vacating the conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. He was found guilty last year of extortion and fraud for accepting more than $175,000 in loans and gifts from a Virginia business executive. The appeal zeroed in on the definition of an “official act” by a government official.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “Our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute. A more limited interpretation of the term ‘official act’ leaves ample room for prosecuting corruption, while comporting with the text of the statute and the precedent of this court.” In the McDonnell case, prosecutors must decide whether to retry McDonnell using the stricter standard.
In May, Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison after being convicted of accepting $4 million in bribes and kickbacks in two separate schemes. The judge in his case postponed a decision whether to allow Silver to stay out of prison during his appeal. She cited the pending Supreme Court case in delaying a ruling.
James Margolin, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, said Silver’s conviction is not imperiled by today’s high court decision. “While we are reviewing the McDonnell decision,” he said, “the official actions that led to the convictions of Sheldon Silver and (Former Senate Majority Leader) Dean Skelos fall squarely within the definition set forth by the Supreme Court today.”
One of Silver’s attorneys told NY1, “The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision today in the McDonnell case makes clear that federal government has gone too far in prosecuting state officials for conduct that is part of the everyday functioning of those in elected office. The McDonnell decision will be central to Mr. Silver’s appeal.”
Sheldon Silver leaves court this afternoon after sentencing.
Former Lower East Assemblyman Sheldon Silver was sentenced this afternoon to 12 years in prison for federal corruption crimes.
He will also be required to forfeit more than $5 million collected in two kickback schemes and pay a $1.75 million fine. Judge Valerie Caproni said the former speaker of the New York State Assembly must report to prison by July 1. It’s possible Mr. Silver’s term could be delayed while appeals are heard.
Silver was found guilty Nov. 30 on charges that included honest services fraud, money laundering and extortion. At that time, he was forced to relinquish the seat he’d held in the assembly for almost 40 years. Just yesterday, Alice Cancel was sworn in as Silver’s replacement after winning a special election last month.
The judge today acknowledged Silver’s good works as a legislator but also said he’d caused “incalculable harm to the people of New York.” Caproni said she was imposing a tough sentence to send a message to other corrupt politicians who seem not to realize that a crooked government “makes the public very cynical.”
Following the sentencing, Silver exited the court building on Foley Square through a side door. He was met by a crush of reporters and photographers. The former lawmaker finally made his way to a waiting taxi cab, which took him away from the courthouse.
UPDATE 4:44 p.m. It was an insane scene outside court. While cameras swarmed around Silver and his attorneys, the mob slowly moved out to Centre Street, where news crews were pushing and shoving to get a clear shot. Silver finally made his way to a cab, but it was also surrounded. Finally, with the help of court officers, a path was cleared and the car made its way up Centre to Worth Street.
UPDATE 5:06 p.m. More details from the sentencing hearing.
Defense attorney Joel Cohen asked the judge to forego a prison sentence, opting for community service and house arrest. “He is already crushed,” said Cohen. “He’s been devastated by everything that occurred over the last year and a half,” added Silver’s longtime lawyer. “His obituary has already been written.” Referencing more than 100 letters written to the judge on behalf of their client, Steven Molo, another defense attorney, called for a sentence that “tempers justice with mercy.” Molo said Silver showed great compassion in helping his constituents deal with crises big and small, including 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy.
Immediately before the sentencing, Silver stood before the judge and offered a short statement. He said, “Without question, I’ve let down my family, I’ve let down my colleagues, I’ve let down my constituents, and I am truly, truly sorry for that.”
Prosecutors expressed indignation regarding a letter Silver wrote to the judge before today’s hearing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Master called it a “remarkable document,” an apology letter that offered no admission of guilt. Instead of arguing at trial that the federal government was engaging in a campaign of character assassination, said Master, Silver could have admitted that he was to blame for his predicament. Another prosecutor, Carrie Cohen, said the sentence should send a message that “no one, including Sheldon Silver, is above the law.”
Judge Caproni said she carefully considered “all of the very kind letters” from people pleading for leniency. She called Silver an unusually gifted politician who “went beyond the call of duty” for his constituents. The judge also took into account that Silver is a 72-year-old man who was diagnosed with prostate cancer (the disease is currently in remission).
At the same time, however, Caproni said she concluded during the course of the trial that “New York State suffered tangible harm” from the former assembly speaker’s actions over many years. Evidence was presented that Silver consulted Glenwood Management, one of the firms implicated in the kickback scandal, before signing off on a new rent regulation law. “I’m confident that smaller firms would have loved that same opportunity,” said the judge, noting that Glenwood was funneling large sums of money to the powerful legislator. “Silver’s corruption cast a shadow over everything he has done,” she said.
The judge said her task was to decide whether Silver was a basically decent man who had simply gone astray, or whether he was fundamentally corrupt. In the end, she concluded that he was confronted on many occasions with the opportunity to “make things right,” yet he didn’t change his behavior. “I hope the sentence I impose on you will make other politicians think twice, until their better angels take over,” said Caproni. “Or, if there are no better angels, perhaps the fear of living out one’s golden years in an orange jumpsuit will keep them on the straight and narrow.”
Silver’s lawyers have requested that he serve at the Federal Correctional Institution in Otisville, N.Y., which has experience with Orthodox Jewish prisoners. Outside the courthouse today, Silver was asked about an appeal and said, “I believe in the justice system, and we will pursue all remedies that are available.”
Following the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara released a statement that read, the “stiff sentence is a just and fitting end to Sheldon Silver’s long career of corruption.”
UPDATE 8:44 p.m. Here’s video from the New York Times outside the courthouse:
Sheldon Silver, March 2015.
Tomorrow afternoon, Sheldon Silver will find out how long he’ll serve in prison after a jury convicted him this past November on federal corruption charges.
The longtime Lower East Side lawmaker was found guilty on seven counts, including honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Prosecutors have urged Judge Valerie Caproni to impose a prison term of more than 14 years. The court’s probation department suggested 10 years. The U.S. Attorney also wants Silver to hand over $5 million and pay a $1 million fine. Prosecutors decided, however, not to go after his apartment in the Hillman Cooperative on Grand Street and a home in Woodbridge, New York.
Defense attorneys asked for a shorter term, even suggesting community service as an alternative. They would like the judge to take into consideration Mr. Silver’s good works as a legislator. About 100 letters were submitted on his behalf. The lawyers have also advocated for leniency because their client is being treated for prostate cancer.
According to the Daily News, it isn’t clear whether Silver will be able to delay serving his sentence until appeals are exhausted:
Manhattan Federal Judge Valerie Caproni could either rule Silver remain free while his appeal is heard, set a date for him to report to prison, or order he be taken into custody immediately, a source close to the case said.
In another story today, the Wall Street Journal pointed out that the judge had a lot of leeway in deciding what sentence is appropriate:
U.S. law says judges should decide sentences based not only on the offense, but also the defendant’s “history and characteristics.” Also relevant, the law says, are deterrence, public protection and the needs of the defendant, including medical care. In court filings, Mr. Silver’s lawyers have highlighted his prostate cancer, bile-duct obstruction and knee problems. For judges, sentencing in public-corruption cases presents a particular quandary: While the convicted official usually isn’t considered a threat to public safety, or capable of committing the same crimes in the future, the government has an incentive to punish such officials harshly to deter others from similar offenses. “The difficulty you have in high-profile cases is that there is a philosophical argument that general deterrence sometimes trumps all other factors,” said Benjamin Brafman, a defense attorney not connected to the Silver case who represented Carl Kruger, a former state senator who was convicted on public-corruption charges and sentenced to seven years.
We’ll have full coverage of Silver’s sentencing tomorrow.
City Hall, December 2012.
As we reported yesterday, prosecutors are asking a federal judge to slap former Assemblyman Sheldon Silver with a stiff sentence. After his late-November conviction on corruption charges, they’re calling for a prison term of greater than 14 years. This morning, we’re publishing the full memorandum from the defense, which includes many letters of support from Mr. Silver’s Lower East Side neighbors.
The document, filed in court yesterday, reveals that Silver, 72, has prostate cancer. He was diagnosed a year ago and has undergone radiation treatments. The cancer is currently in remission. Defense attorneys are asking Judge Valerie Caproni to take Silver’s medical condition into account when he’s sentenced next month.
The filing also includes a letter of apology from Silver. It reads, in part:
There are letters from the former speaker’s children, as well as from Rosa Silver, his wife of 49 years. “Writing this letter is the most difficult thing I have ever done,” she told the judge. “I am not sure what I can say to Your Honor except that my husband is a good man. He has done so much good for his family, which always came first, and also for the people of the State of New York… Please give him as lenient a sentence as possible.”
There are too many letters of support to mention all of them here. They include a wide cross-section of the 65th Assembly District, which Silver represented for almost 40 years. There are neighbors in the Hillman Co-op, where Silver has lived since the 1970s; local rabbis; community leaders, seniors and small business owners.
Mendel Hagler, former executive director of Gouverneur Health, Michael Zisser of University Settlement, Pastor Marc Rivera of Primitive Christian Church and Seward Park Co-op General Manager Frank Durant are just some of those who testify to Silver’s good works on the Lower East Side.
Tenant leaders such as Aixa Torres of the Smith Houses and Grisel Cintron of the Vladeck Houses submitted pleas to the judge. Torres acknowledged Silver’s conviction, but said that through 9/11, two hurricanes and other crises, “Mr. Silver has been present to help our community, and in doing so gave us hope to continue.”
In Chinatown, people such as Justin Yu, head of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce; pharmacist Peter Lau; and Virginia Kee, co-founder of the Chinese American Planning Council, all wrote letters. Kee, explained, “I was truly touched that Assemblyman Sheldon Silver endorsed my candidacy (for district leader in 1985)… At that time very few elected officials paid any attention to Chinatown… It is part of Sheldon Silver’s legacy that our Asian community has been empowered and seeks representation.”
“While Mr. Silver’s many public and private good works do not excuse the conduct on which his conviction rests,” argued defense lawyers, “they – along with his personal circumstances – deserve thoughtful consideration in reaching a result that is truly fair.” The attorneys also tried to minimize the damage from last week’s revelations regarding Silver’s alleged extra-marital affairs. “Make no mistake,” they wrote, “the Government has not proven them – and certainly has not proven that there was any quid pro quo regarding them – despite its extraordinary investigation of every aspect of Mr. Silver’s life.”
Silver’s legal team is proposing that he be allowed to serve a portion of his term by performing community service at The Fortune Society, a non-profit group that advocates on behalf of criminal justice issues.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is urging a federal judge to crack down hard on Sheldon Silver when the former Lower East Side assemblyman is sentenced next month.
In documents filed today, prosecutors argue that Silver should be sentenced to more than 14 years in prison. The longtime New York state power broker was convicted on corruption charges this past November.
While guidelines suggest a sentence of up to 27 years, the court’s probation department has recommended a 10-year prison term. Prosecutors have not made a specific proposal, but argue that the sentence should be “substantially in excess” of what’s been recommended.
In a memo to Judge Valerie Caproni, they called for a penalty “greater than any sentence imposed on other New York State legislators convicted of public corruption offenses.” The longest sentence for a similar crime was handed to former Assemblyman William Boyland, who was convicted on corruption charges last year. He’s serving a 14-year term. Prosecutors also want Silver to relinquish more than $5 million — profits from his bribery schemes — and pay at least $1 million in fines.
The sentence imposed on Silver should reflect the unprecedented magnitude, duration, and scope of his abuse of power… It should reflect the immeasurable damage Silver caused to the democratic process and to the public trust. It should punish Silver for the vast harm he has caused and the position of trust that he exploited, deter other elected officials from the temptation towards corruption, and communicate to the public that the rule of law applies even to the most prominent of public officials.
Silver’s lawyers also weighed in on the subject today. They called for a lighter sentence that would permit the former lawmaker to, “continue to employ his unique talents to benefit others.” They suggested that, “a sentence that incorporates extensive community service and little — if any — incarceration could do that.”
Silver was convicted last year of seven counts, including honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering. Prosecutors said he illegally collected about $4 million in legal fees after using his position, that of assembly speaker, to aid a cancer researcher and two real estate firms.
Silver will be sentenced May 3. The lifelong Lower East Side resident is 72 years old.
Here are the dueling memos from the prosecution and defense, courtesy of Politico New York.
Sheldon Silver last summer on the Lower East Side.
Documents released in federal court this morning detail evidence from the U.S. Attorney that former Assemblyman Sheldon Silver was involved in two extramarital affairs.
The documents unsealed today ahead of Silver’s sentencing for public corruption crimes next month do not reveal the names of the women. But in a letter to Judge Valerie Caproni, prosecutors wrote that one of them was a lobbyist who met with the former speaker of the assembly “on a regular basis on behalf of clients who had business before the state.”
Silver, prosecutors said, “used his official position to recommend” a second woman for a state job. The position, while not specifically mentioned, was described as one, “over which he exercised a particularly high level of control.”
Lawyers in the U.S. Attorney’s office wanted to use the evidence in Silver’s trial last fall, but the judge shut down those efforts. The documents remained sealed until today; they were heavily redacted. Silver’s lawyers tried to keep them secret, but prosecutors successfully argued that they’re relevant to the his sentencing hearing, scheduled for May 3. Lawyers for news organizations also pressed for their release.
Defense attorney Joel Cohen released a statement this morning, saying “These are simply unproven and salacious allegations that have no place in this case or public discussion.”
On Nov. 30, Silver was found guilty of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering. He was forced to give up his seat after 40 years representing the Lower East Side. A special election will be held next Tuesday to select a new assembly member in Lower Manhattan.
In court yesterday, Judge Caproni said of the information contained in the documents, “This is not one of his better moments.” Explaining her decision, she added, “I view this as of a piece of the crimes” for which Mr. Silver was convicted, namely the “misuse of his public office. And I think it’s relevant.”
In February, the judge’s written ruling stated:
Each (woman) allegedly had an extramarital affair with a public official and then exploited her relationship with the public official for personal gain… The expectation of privacy in an amorous relationship where official government business and personal benefit are intertwined is necessarily less than an amorous relationship between wholly private citizens or between a private citizen and a government official where there is no intersection with state business.
More details from Newsday:
Prosecutors… said they had a recording of a conversation between Silver and the first woman in which they discussed “both State and private business” and in parts spoke “quietly and in whispers” discussing how to conceal their relationship from reporters. “I don’t think he caught us,” Silver said in response to his alleged lover’s concern about inquiries being made by one reporter. The government said the lobbyist was widely viewed as someone with “special access” to Silver and got clients “in part because of her access.” Silver communicated with the second woman on a secret cellphone that was not in his name, prosecutors said, and called two different state officials to try to get her a job without revealing the personal relationship.
UPDATE 1:10 p.m. This from the Daily News:
A source identified the lobbyist as Patricia Lynch, a former aide to Silver who founded her own powerhouse lobbying firm, Patricia Lynch & Associates. Lynch was well-known for her close ties to Silver… Lynch, through her office, declined comment.