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Thursday, January 22, 2015

NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver accused of $4 million bribery and kickback scheme

...Dems continue to support him

'Bout time! BUT, be assured it'll never go to a complete clean-up; corruption to NY State is endemic with the only vaccine being a moral electorate, and we don't see that happening. It's a bottomless sewer.
To be identifiable and manageable, corruption must be kept local, certainly flushed from the DC or state government level. With extortion, bribery, multi-nationals and other anti-sovereign trade-offs going on at the international level, it's doubtful any of us will see public honesty in our lifetimes.
 Silver, who has been one of the most powerful lawmakers in Albany for more than two decades, surrendered to authorities Thursday morning. A five-count federal complaint accuses him of accepting millions from firms seeking his influence in Albany.
Published: Thursday, January 22, 2015, 1:55 AM
ALBANY — Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the longtime Albany power broker, surrendered Thursday to face multimillion dollar federal corruption charges.
A stunning five-count criminal complaint accused the Manhattan Democrat, a state political fixture for decades, with pocketing roughly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks in return for wielding his massive influence.
“Speaker Silver lied and misled the public about his outside incomes,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara told a news conference hours after Silver turned himself in.

Sheldon Silver surrendered to authorities Thursday after a federal investigation produced a five-count criminal complaint against him. 
 Joe Marino/New York Daily News Sheldon Silver surrendered to authorities Thursday after a federal investigation produced a five-count criminal complaint against him.
“These charges go to the very core of what ails Albany — a lack of transparency, lack of accountability and a lack of principle joined with an overabundance of greed, cronyism and self-dealing.”
EDITORIAL: Speaker Silver has been laid bare as a polite extortionist
Bharara’s office received court warrants to seize $3.4 million from eight of Silver’s accounts at a half-dozen banks.
Each of the counts against Silver carries a maximum 20-year jail term — five years long than the length of time that prosecutors claim the speaker was collecting his crooked cash.
The federal prosecutor said Silver’s approach to his illegal income was simple: “He did nothing. As alleged, Speaker Silver never did any legal work. He just sat back and collected millions of dollars.”
Silver was accused of pressuring two real estate companies doing business with the state to hire a law firm that was regularly paying him bribes, the 35-page complaint charged.
The beneficiary of the increased business was Jay Arthur Goldberg, 75, who once worked as Silver’s lawyer in the Assembly, sources indicated.
Goldberg, of the Manhattan law firm Goldberg & Iryami, was also once employed by the city Tax Commission during the Koch administrations.
The majority of the $4 million came after Silver steered $500,000 in taxpayer funds to a doctor who in turn referred asbestos cases to Weitz & Luxenberg, a personal injury firm affiliated with the speaker for decades.
Lawmakers on both sides of aisle call on Sheldon Silver to quit
The state money was provided to Dr. Robert Taub for research by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation — with some of the additional funds going for unspecified “additional benefits” to the doctor’s family, the court papers charges.
Taub, who is affiliated with Columbia University, is cooperating with the FBI, court papers revealed. Silver sponsored a May 2011 “official resolution” by the assembly honoring Taub.
Silver collected more than $3.2 million in referral fees from the law firm after directing more than 100 clients to Weitz & Luxenberg for asbestos litigation, according to the complaint.
But not a single one of the firm's clients ever contacted Silver or spoke with the politician about their cases, even as the law firm kept paying the fees.
Silver had long insisted publicly that he sent “plain, ordinary, simple people” with legitimate personal injury cases to the law firm, the court documents note.
No one else was charged with Silver — although one alleged co-conspirator was mentioned.
Asked if more charges were coming, Bharara replied, “Stay tuned.”
Authorities also charged that the corrupt Silver attempted to cover his tracks once a state investigation was launched in 2013, moving to quash a subpoena from the Moreland Commission to Weitz & Luxenberg.
Silver dismissed the investigation as a “fishing expedition.” The assembly speaker and his staff were involved in negotiations that led Gov. Cuomo to end the commission last year, the complaint said.
Silver, whose annual state salary is $121,000, was driven in a white Subaru from the FBI’s Lower Manhattan headquarters to the nearby federal courthouse on Pearl St. shortly after 10 a.m.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi  
Todd Maisel/New York Daily News Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been accused of accepting $6 million in bribes and kickbacks.

The schemes date back to 2000, and charge the speaker with multiple counts of fraud and using “the power and influence of his official position to obtain for himself millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income earned by Silver as a private lawyer.”
Silver arrived early Thursday at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan after officials allowed him to surrender and avoid a perp walk, law enforcement sources said.
The courtesy was extended to Silver due to his status as a veteran state lawmaker, the sources said.
Silver is expected to appear in court for arraignment Thursday afternoon. His attorney dismissed the charges as without merit.
“Mr. Silver looks forward to responding to them — in court — and ultimately his full exoneration,” said defense lawyer Joel Cohen.
Silver, 70, told reporters on Jan. 7, after word of the investigation came to light, that he had not personally heard from investigators. 

He was less specific when asked whether his lawyer had, saying “they have not been directed to do anything.”
He has repeatedly refused to discuss the probe.
GUEST COLUMN: Declare war on corruption, Gov. Cuomo
“I don’t think it’s appropriate at this time under the circumstances to be commenting on these matters,” he said two weeks ago.
The arrest of Silver, who next year would become the longest-serving speaker in Assembly history, comes as Bharara’s office has taken up the unfinished investigations of the Moreland anti-corruption commission. Finish Reading plus More