According to published reports, Sheldon Silver, the longtime speaker of the New York state Assembly, was arrested Thursday morning on numerous corruptions charges.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara said Silver arrested on charges that he used his official position to receive nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks from people and businesses in exchange for his official acts, and that Silver masked these payments from public view by disguising the payments as income from what he claimed was a law practice primarily focused on personal injury matters.
“Over his decades in office, Speaker Silver has amassed titanic political power. But, as alleged, during that same time, Silver also amassed a tremendous personal fortune – through the abuse of that political power,” said Bharara. “All told, we allege that Silver corruptly collected some $4 million in bribes and kickbacks disguised as ‘referral fees.’
Bharara said those disguised bribes and kickbacks account for approximately two-thirds of all of Silver’s outside income since 2002. Authorities seized approximately $3.8 million of Silver’s money Thursday, Bharara said.
The 35-page criminal complaint alleges that Silver, a lawyer, used “the power and influence of his official position to obtain for himself millions of dollars of bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income.” The complaint charges Silver with scheming to defraud and deprive the public of honest services, mail fraud and extortion, and alleges he received more than $6 million in outside income from two law firms since late 2002.
Legislators must file financial disclosure statements when involved with work outside of their legislative duties. Bharara said Silver filed the proper documents, but these representations were false, according to the complaint.
The complaint says that Silver induced “real estate developers with business before the state” to use another law firm, Goldberg & Iryami, where Silver is listed as “of counsel.” Silver is also accused of participating in a scheme in which he used his position as speaker to secretly direct state funds to an unnamed doctor in exchange for obtaining referrals of asbestos cases from that doctor, the complaint says.
The complaint says the federal charges stem from records obtained by investigators from the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption after it was disbanded by Cuomo in 2013.
Silver is accused of taking legal action and other steps to prevent the commission from learning about the schemes.