Sheldon Silver, who has been speaker of the New York State Assembly for 20 years, was found guilty today in federal court of seven corruption charges deriving primarily from two fraud schemes that netted him nearly $4 million.
As part of the verdict, Silver, who resigned as speaker after his arrest in January, will be forced to give up his Assembly seat, which he has occupied for 40 years. Both of Silver’s fraud schemes resulted in him pocketing referral fees from law firms to which he directed potential clients. The largest of the two involved a Columbia professor and mesothelioma patients, and resulted in Silver clearing $3 million. Via the Daily News:
In the first, prosecutors said he secretly directed $500,000 in state money to Columbia University Dr. Robert Taub’s mesothelioma research. The decorated doctor testified that he gave Silver leads on his patients who were suffering from the deadly effects of asbestos exposure. The Lower East Side democrat then directed those patients to the firm Weitz & Luxenberg, which paid Silver $3 million in referral fees.
The other scheme was slightly less convoluted but still very profitable for Silver:
In the second scheme Silver, 71, directed two major developers – Glenwood Management and the Witkoff Group – to use the firm Goldberg & Iryami for litigation challenging city tax assessments. That firm secretly paid Silver $700,000 in referral fees.
The trial itself was marked by various jury shenanigans. Two jurors begged the judge to be released from the case, but were denied. Another was nearly booted earlier in the proceedings after being spotted hanging around a local NBC satellite truck.
As one of the so-called “three men in a room” that essentially control New York politics, Silver has shaped the state, and its flagship city, in eras dominated by political figures like Michael Bloomberg, Rudy Giuliani, Elliot Spitzer, Andrew Cuomo and George Pataki. He faces up to 130 years in prison.
[image of Silver after the verdict via Getty]