Silver Trial Delayed as Star Witness Deals With Medical Issue

Sheldon Silver, 2016.
Sheldon Silver, 2016.
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.