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Breaking: Sheldon Silver Arrested This Morning on Federal Charges (Updated 10:36 a.m.)

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Silver in Chinatown - photo by TheLoDownNY.com

The New York Times is reporting that State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will be arrested on corruption charges by federal authorities today.

Information is scarce at this hour, but here’s the gist of the story posted on the Times’ website overnight:

Details of the specific charges to be brought against Mr. Silver were unclear on Wednesday night, but one of the people with knowledge of the matter said they stemmed from payments that Mr. Silver received from a small law firm that specializes in seeking reductions of New York City real estate taxes. The total amount of the payments was unclear, but another person has said they were substantial and were made over several years. Mr. Silver failed to list the payments from the firm, Goldberg & Iryami, on his annual financial disclosure filings with the state, as required. Several months ago, federal prosecutors in the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, subpoenaed documents from a personal injury firm that also paid Mr. Silver, income that he did disclose, one person with the knowledge of the matter said. Like others, he spoke on the condition of anonymity because the charges had not been announced.

Silver, a lifelong Lower East Side resident, was just re-elected to an 11th term as Assembly Speaker. As the Times noted, his arrest is sure to “throw Albany into disarray at the beginning of a new session.” Contacted by the Times, Silver’s lawyer would not comment last night.

Lawmakers who have been arrested can continue to serve. They’re only required to step down after being convicted of a felony.

UPDATED 8:23 a.m. According to the Times, Silver has already been arrested this morning:

Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who has served as speaker for more than two decades, surrendered to F.B.I. agents early Thursday morning in Lower Manhattan. Mr. Silver, before entering 26 Federal Plaza, said, “I hope I’ll be vindicated.” …  Before he makes his initial court appearance, he will be processed by federal agents. Generally, people facing charges are fingerprinted and photographed, have a DNA swab taken and are checked for tattoos.

UPDATED 10:03 a.m. The U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara, will hold a 1 p.m. press conference to formally announce the charges filed against Silver. Reaction is also starting to roll in regarding the dramatic news concerning the longtime Lower East Side power broker. A downtown lawmaker who represents part of the East Village, State Sen. Brad Hoylman, had this to say on twitter:

Joel Cohen and Steven Molo, Silver’s attorneys, have released a statement:

We are disappointed that the prosecutors have chosen to proceed with these meritless criminal charges. That said, Mr. Silver looks forward to responding to them – in court – and ultimately his full exoneration.

UPDATE 10:33 a.m. Details from the criminal complaint via State of Politics:

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was indicted on Thursday on five counts of fraud and corruption, with federal investigators accusing the longtime lawmaker of using his official position to reap millions of dollars in outside income and kickbacks. Charges against Silver focus on the myriad ties he has to both two lucrative industries that have business before the state: Real estate and health care, as well as intersect with his work as a personal injury attorney, where he has been “of counsel.” At the same time, a real-estate developer is pointed to who has contributed $200,000 to Silver and a political action committee under his control… The 35-page indictment alleges Silver received bribes and kicks through a law firm, which was masked as legitimate income. The indictment states Silver received millions of dollars in non-public income “as a direct result of his corrupt use of his official position to obtain attorney referral fees for himself.” Silver, since late 2002, has received more than $5 million from the two firms, with approximately $700,000 accounting for bribes and kickbacks. Investigators allege Silver obtained referrals in asbestos cases from a doctor, and used his position as leader of the Assembly to funnel a half-million dollars in state funds to the doctor’s research as well as his family. “There is probably cause to believe that Silver obtained approximately $4 million in payments characterized as referral fees solely through the corrupt use of his official position,” the indictment states.

Here’s the full document:

US v Sheldon Silver Complaint by Nick Reisman

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