Yesterday, the jury was seated for Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s trial and opening statements from both sides were made.
The prosecution presented Silver as a man overcome by power, greed, and corruption. As presented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Cohen, Silver steered money and favors to people who, in return, hired the law firms Silver recommended. Silver then received kickbacks as referral fees, completing the circle of quid pro quo.
Silver’s defense attorneys, on the other hand, described his conduct as normal and legal.
The case turns on arrangements with two law firms — Weitz & Luxenberg, which specialized in asbestos litigation; and Goldberg & Iryami, tax certiorari lawyers. Jay Arthur Goldberg, the partner at Goldberg & Iryami has for many years represented East River Housing and Hillman, where Silver lives. After Goldberg was named a co-conspirator in the federal indictment, Hillman severed ties with his firm but East River continues to retain his services. (Board president Gary Altman has refused to answer questions about East River’s agreement with Goldberg.)