Ex-New York Speaker Sheldon Silver Pleads Not Guilty in Corruption Case

Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, one of the state’s most powerful politicians for two decades, pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges on Tuesday.

Silver, 71, who resigned as speaker after his arrest last month but remains the assemblyman for Manhattan’s Lower East Side, is charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and using his office for extortion.

Silver entered his plea in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where one of his defense attorneys, Steven Molo, said they planned to file a motion to dismiss the indictment.

The defense claims Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, made several public prejudicial statements against Silver that would have tainted the grand jury weighing the case.

“These were statements where the U.S. Attorney excoriated the defendant, basically deprived him of the assumption of innocence and extolled his guilt,” Molo said in court before U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni.

Prosecutors called Molo’s allegations “baseless.”

Following his court appearance, Silver told reporters: “I’m confident I will be vindicated in the courtroom.”

A lawyer, Silver became speaker in 1994, with considerable influence over New York state’s budget and lawmaking processes.

Silver long listed the New York City law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg on financial disclosure forms as a source of income for representing its clients.

The grand jury indictment said he used that position to mask bribes and kickbacks, including more than $3 million earned for referring asbestos sufferers to the firm from a doctor whose medical research secretly received $500,000 in state funds at Silver’s direction, as well as other benefits.

Silver kept secret from Weitz & Luxenberg the state funding he had organized for the doctor, according to the indictment, handed down last week.

Prosecutors say Silver also received $700,000 in kickbacks by steering real estate developers with business before the state legislature to another law firm.

Author

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Ex-New York Speaker Sheldon Silver Pleads Not Guilty in Corruption Case

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close