Sheldon Silver arrested on five counts of fraud, bribery, and extortion

This morning’s blockbuster political news resonates profoundly right here on Grand Street. Sheldon Silver is not just one of the most powerful men in state government, he is our local representative in Albany, a neighbor, and, to many here at East River, a friend.

Sheldon Silver

This morning, after almost 40 years in the New York State Assembly and over 20 years as Speaker, Silver surrendered to the FBI to face five counts of federal corruption charges.

The official complaint against Silver focuses on money he has earned as a private lawyer from two law firms, one a personal injury law firm that Silver had acknowledged in disclosures for years, the second a small real estate tax firm that only recently was brought to light. Prosecutors claim that money paid to Silver was not for any actual work performed or for legitimate referrals, but rather as kickbacks and bribes.

The indictment complaint alleges that Silver’s income from personal injury firm Weitz & Luxenberg came primarily from asbestos case referrals through one particular New York doctor whose research was frequently supported by grants approved by the state assembly.

The indictment complaint further charges that Silver’s income from real estate firm Goldberg & Iryami were also illegal referral fees.

It should be noted here that, although the real estate tax firm Goldberg & Iryami has represented East River Housing for years, the indictment complaint explicitly states that alleged kickbacks were received exclusively from work done for two major developers with business before the state; though those two developers are not named in the indictment complaint, they are believed to be Leonard Litwin and Baruch Singer and not our relatively small-fry coop.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara will be holding a press conference at 1:00 pm today to outline the charges.

Here’s the full indictment complaint:

US v Sheldon Silver Complaint