On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni ordered that documents related to the conviction of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges last fall be unsealed. Prosecutors say that the documents show Silver carried on extramarital affairs with at least two women—one of whom had business before the state legislature, and one of whom he helped get a government job.
Silver’s lawyers have been fighting to keep the documents under seal for a little over a year. “In the context of this case, given all the allegations that are out there, there is nothing here,” one of his attorneys, Steven Molo, said Thursday. “We ought to take three steps backward and not look at this under some sort of microscope. I can’t see how the government could credibly argue that [the documents] would.”
Caproni ordered the materials unsealed after the New York Times and NBCUniversal filed documents arguing they should be made public. “The public has a right to know the factors that this court is considering going into sentencing,” she said Thursday. “I’m not sure that if it’s ancient history that it means it has no relevance.”
“My view is, I have been running afoul of the First Amendment,” Caproni said Friday. Referring to reporters in the court room, she continued. “These people have a right to know and the public has a right to know.”
In one of the recently unsealed filings, the government outlines the evidence it has acquired indicating that Silver carried out the two affairs:
The evidence was initially filed under seal after lawyers for the women implicated in the alleged affairs consented on the condition that their clients’ names and any identifying information be redacted.
“In light of the defendant’s misuse of his official position as set forth above, and his active concealment of his personal relationships while employing his Assembly staff and other to provide official benefits and access to [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], such evidence is particularly relevant to rebut efforts by the defendant to introduce evidence of his purported good moral character,” one government filing reads. (Silver’s sentencing is scheduled for May 3.)
Prosecutors argue that the lobbyist with whom Silver allegedly was having an affair “obtained certain clients in part because of her access to the defendant.” Investigators learned of their affair, filings state, after stumbling across an inadvertently recorded conversation:
This isn’t the first time Silver has been accused of carrying on an extramarital affair, although earlier evidence was far more tenuous. In 2013, the New York Daily News obtained an email from State Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who retired in 2013 amidst accusations of sexual harassment, which claims that Lopez “repeatedly” told a female staffer “that he wanted their relationship to be the same as Mr. Silver’s to his Chief of Staff and was explicit in what that meant.”
As to the woman prosecutors now allege Silver helped get a job:
We’ll continue to update this post as we review the documents.