Former New York Assembly Speaker Convicted on Corruption Charges in Scheme for Referral Fees

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

Former New York Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, was convicted by a jury on Monday, November 30, 2015, on federal corruption charges.  Silver had spent nearly 40 years as an elected New York Assemblyman.  Prosecutors say Silver was using public money to fund an asbestos disease researcher in exchange for patient referrals to Silver's colleagues and personal injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg PC.  Silver received millions in referral bonuses as a result of the scheme.  

Silver is further accused of obtaining referral fees from a real estate tax law firm, Goldberg & Iryami PC.  These fees resulted from work performed for developers, Glenwood Management and Witkoff Group, via the firm.  Prosecutors claim Silver solicited the fees while asserting his official position in lobbying the New York state legislature on behalf of the developers.


United States Attorney Preet Bharara Releases Statement.

In what is considered a rather succinct statement issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) following Silver's conviction, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara spoke out regarding the jury's verdict.  Bharara stated, "Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York."  To read the press release, click here

This conviction has been referred to as the capstone of the government's efforts to expose and eradicate the seemingly sordid culture of Albany.  In a previous statement issued by the DOJ following Silver's arrest in January 2015, Bharara said, "As [today's] charges make clear, the show-me-the-money culture of Albany has been perpetuated and promoted at the very top of the political food chain."  To read the full press release, click here

This is just another notch in Bharara's anti-corruption endeavors.  In May 2015, Bharara brought corruption charges against former New York Senate majority leader, Dean Skelos, and his son, Adam Skelos.  Skelos father and son are accused of bribery and honest services fraud as well as extortion.  That trial has been unfolding in the wake of the Silver trial.  To read the full press release on the alleged Skelos' scheme issued by the DOJ, click here


Seems There Was Some Discontent Among the Jurors.


In the midst of the first convention for deliberations a juror, Arleen Phillips, sent a note to the judge requesting to be excused.  As reported by the New York Times, the juror claimed to be feeling an immense amount of pressure that was causing her extreme stress and declared, "I need to leave!"

On the last day of deliberations, a second juror asked to be removed as well.  The juror, Kenneth Graham noted a job-related conflict of interest.  According to reporters, Benjamin Weiser and Susanne Craig for the New York Times, it seems Graham had just learned of a friendship between the owner of the cab he drives for a living and Silver.  Ultimately, the judge denied both jurors' requests.

It is reported that Graham referred to the deliberations as "hard," while Phillips said her opinion had changed to allow her to join the unanimous vote on Silver's guilt on all counts.  

To read the full news report issued by the New York Times, click here

Silver is currently out on bail but is expected to return to court on January 10, 2016. 


Comments?


What are your thoughts on the conviction of former New York Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver?


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Sources:


Bishop, Stewart.  "Sheldon Silver Convicted in Corruption Trial."  Law360.  Portfolio Media Inc.: 30 Nov. 2015.  Web.  1 Dec. 2015.

Department of Justice.  "Statement Of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara On The Conviction Of Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver."  Press Release: 30 Nov. 2015.  Web.  1 Dec. 2015.

Department of Justice.  "New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Arrested on Corruption Charges."  Press Release: 22 Jan. 2015.  Web.  1 Dec. 2015.

Department of Justice.  "New York State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos And Son Arrested On Corruption Charges."  Press Release: 4 May 2015.  Web.  1 Dec. 2015.

Weiser, Benjamin and Craig, Susanne.  "Sheldon Silver, Ex-New York Assembly Speaker, Is Found Guilty on All Counts."  N.Y./Region.  The New York Times: 30 Nov. 2015.  Web.  1 Dec. 2015.


About the Author:
George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.



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12/2/2015

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