Sheldon Silver, the once-powerful former leader of the New York State assembly, lost his bid to have federal corruption charges against him dismissed on Friday for the second time.
“None of Silver’s arguments is persuasive,” U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan wrote in rejecting Silver’s motion to throw the case out.
Silver, 71, is scheduled to face trial in November on charges that he used his position to collect millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes.
Silver’s lawyers had argued that his alleged conduct did not constitute extortion as defined under federal law and that the supposed kickback schemes were in fact merely ethical conflict-of-interest issues. But Caproni said the allegations were legally sufficient to support the indictment.
Silver had previously asked Caproni to toss the case due to public statements made by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara following Silver’s arrest that he claimed were prejudicial.
Caproni said she was “troubled” by Bharara’s remarks, which cast Silver’s arrest as part of a broader corruption problem in New York politics, but nevertheless declined to dismiss the indictment in April.
Lawyers for Silver did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
Prosecutors have charged Silver with seven counts, including mail and wire fraud, extortion and money laundering.
He is accused of using his position at a law firm to conceal more than $3 million he earned from referring asbestos cases to the firm from a doctor who received undisclosed state grant money.
Separately, Silver took in $700,000 from steering real estate developers with business before the legislature to another law firm, prosecutors said. He is also accused of putting most of that money into an investment vehicle and then taking official actions to benefit the investor who provided him access.
Silver, a Democrat, was the state assembly speaker from 1994 until he stepped down from his leadership post following his arrest in January. As speaker, he was considered one of the state’s three most powerful politicians, along with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
Skelos, a Republican has also been charged by Bharara’s office with corruption and subsequently resigned his leadership position.
Both Skelos and Silver have refused to step down as lawmakers, however.—Reuters
This story "Sheldon Silver Loses Bid To Toss Corruption Case" was written by Joseph Ax.