Excerpted from AP — New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – a Manhattan Democrat – was arrested Thursday on public corruption charges, accused of using his position to obtain millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income.
The 70-year-old Silver was taken into custody around 8 a.m. at the FBI’s New York City office, FBI spokesman Peter Donald confirmed. Silver faces five counts, including conspiracy and bribery charges. He was expected to make a court appearance later Thursday… According to a criminal complaint, Silver “received more than $6 million in outside income from two law firms since late 2002.” Authorities said Silver abused power.
“Silver used the power and influence of his official position to obtain for himself millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income earned by Silver as private lawyer,” the complaint said…
The Democrat from Manhattan’s Lower East Side has served as speaker for more than two decades. The arrest sent shock waves through Albany as a new legislative session has begun and it came just a day after Silver shared the stage with Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his State of the State address.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara took over the files of New York’s Moreland anti-corruption commission after Cuomo closed it in April. He said in October that investigations into Albany’s pay-to-play politics are continuing. The commission and Bharara were looking into lawmakers’ earnings outside their state salaries. Silver’s outside income has long been a subject of discussion and controversy. Last year, he reported making up to $750,000 for legal work, mostly with the trial firm of Weitz & Luxenberg.
When the commission began to investigate public corruption in 2013, including outside income earned by Silver and other state legislators, “Silver took legal action and other steps to prevent the disclosure of such information,” the complaint said. Following news of his arrest, NYGOP spokesman David Laska released a statement saying it was “another sad day for New York” and called on Silver to “immediately resign from the State Assembly.”