New York State Assembly State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver has created a major problem for a range of people and institutions ranging from law firms, the Assembly to himself
The spider’s web is drawn by the WSJ in the graphic. As the paper reports:
Mr. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, was charged Thursday in a criminal complaint that alleged two schemes. Mr. Silver is accused of receiving $700,000 in kickbacks after steering two real-estate developers to a law firm run by his former Assembly counsel. At least one of the developers successfully lobbied Mr. Silver to craft legislation favorable to the industry, according to the complaint.
In the second purported scheme, Mr. Silver received more than $3 million in referral fees from a personal-injury law firm after encouraging a doctor to refer patients suffering from asbestos-related cancer to the firm. Mr. Silver directed $500,000 in state funds toward the doctor’s research, prosecutors said.
Mr. Silver has denied wrongdoing, and after his arraignment Thursday in Manhattan federal court, he said he would be vindicated.
Defense attorneys and former prosecutors described the complaint as robust, a sound application of the Hobbs Act, a federal statute for extortion committed by public officials, and the so-called honest services statute, one of several federal laws used to prosecute corruption on the state level.
Dan Gelber, a defense lawyer in Miami and a former federal prosecutor, said the allegations are “within the heartland of what the honest-services statute is now intended to be used for.”
Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal corruption prosecutor who is now at Arent Fox LLP in Washington, put it this way: “My goodness. This is not an easy case to defend against.”
Still, the alleged quid pro quo arrangements in Mr. Silver’s case are murky in places, and defense lawyers successfully have challenged “honest services” charges in recent cases.
Read more at the Wall Street Journal