Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been charged with five counts of corruption by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara. In the criminal complaint, it alleges that Silver pocketed roughly $4 million in kickbacks since 2000 from Real Estate interests and the health industry in return for favorable treatment in Albany.
"...there is probably cause to believe that SILVER obtained approximately $4 million in payments characterized as attorney referrel fees solely through the corrupt use of his official position," the complaint states.
Here is a quick breakdown of the five counts:
- Count 1: Wire Fraud and to scheme or artifice to defraud
- Count 2: Mail Fraud and to scheme or artifice to defraud
- Count 3: Attempt and Conspiracy, involving a co-conspirator who was a former counsel to Silver and is not named in the complaint but is identified as the founder of a two person Real Estate Firm. Based on that information and published reports, the co-conspirator is likely Jay Arthur Goldberg from the firm, Goldberg and Iryami.
- Count 4: Interference with Commerce by Extortion
- Count 5: Interference with Commerce by Extortion
FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard Frankel released this statement on the arrest and charges at 12:30 p.m.
“As alleged, Silver took advantage of the political pulpit to benefit from unlawful profits. When all was said and done, he amassed nearly $4 million in illegitimate proceeds and arranged for approximately $500,000 in state funds to be used for projects that benefited his personal plans. We hold our elected representatives to the highest standards and expect them to act in the best interest of their constituents. In good faith, we trust they will do so while defending the fundamental tenets of the legal system. But as we are reminded today, those who make the laws don’t have the right to break the laws.”
Following a two-hour closed doors meeting of the Assembly Democrat conference, members told the press they will continue to support Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver after he was arrested this morning on federal charges.
Session was canceled this morning after the news broke.
“I’m continuing to support the Speaker and I will say that the members overwhelmingly in the conversation that we just had are continuing their support and there is a strong feeling, as I think we all should reflect on, that there is a presumption of innocence and we have every confidence that the Speaker will continue his role with distinction,” Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle said.
Morelle said he had not reviewed the charges, but there was no discussion or suggestion during the conference that Silver should step down.
“This has nothing to do with his leadership,” Assemblyman Denny Farrell said. “You are innocent until proven. It is a very simple method and concept. You can’t say, ‘I can’t do this because you’ve been charged’ because you get a DA who goes crazy—you could end up in a lot of trouble and there a whole bunch of guys when you look back in history who are indicted, found guilty and then it was thrown out of court.”
Silver will return to Albany on Monday for session next week.
City & State will update this post as more information comes in. Below is the full criminal complaint.