Last month, Assemblyman Sheldon Silver asked a federal judge to dismiss his three-count indictment on corruption charges due to statements made about the case by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Now the U.S. attorneys office has responded in a 24-page court brief.
Silver, who faces mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion charges, argued that Bharara created a “media firestorm” in the hours leading up to his Jan. 22 arrest and during a press conference following Mr. Silver’s initial court appearance. His legal team argued that the prosecutor was seeking to try the case in the news media, depriving the Lower East Side assemblyman of a fair trial. The lawyers also criticized a speech at New York Law School the next day in which Bharara lambasted Albany’s “three men in a room” culture.
In the brief filed yesterday, the U.S. Attorney strongly disagreed, saying he’s always emphasized the charges against Silver are merely allegations to be proven at trial. “The defendant’s motion relies on distortions and omissions, disregards the law and is a transparent attempt to distract this Court and the public from the serious charges brought against the defendant,” the federal prosecutor wrote. Silver’s motion, he added, is part of a “calculated effort to malign the U.S. Attorney and mislead this court and the public.”
Silver is accused of accepting $4 million in bribes and kickbacks. He was forced to step down as Assembly speaker after 21 years following the arrest. You can read the U.S. Attorney’s full rebuttal below.