BREAKING: Top Tammany Democrat Silver Arrested -- Is Andrew Cuomo Next? UPDATED
Sheldon Silver is finally getting what's long been coming to him:
Sheldon Silver, the longtime speaker of the New York state Assembly, was arrested Thursday morning on corruption charges. Silver showed up at 26 Federal Plaza in downtown Manhattan at 8 a.m. where he was arrested by FBI agents. He’s set to make his initial appearance before a federal judge Thursday afternoon. Silver’s spokesman, Michael Whyland, declined comment before the arrest.
US Attorney Preet Bharara scheduled a press conference at 1 p.m. to detial the charges.The powerful Manhattan Democrat Silver has been the target of an on-going federal probe of undocumented payments he received from a law firm, sources said...
Silver, who has served as speaker for more than 20 years, was ensnared in an investigation sparked by Gov. Cuomo’s abrupt shut down of an anti-corruption commission he had created in 2013.
The specific details of the charges were not clear, but sources said that they were related to money Silver received from a small real-estate tax law firm. The firm, Goldberg & Iryami PC, made the payments over about a decade, but Silver failed to list the income on his financial-disclosure forms, sources told The Post.
Silver’s outside income has always been questioned by his critics. Last year, Silver reported income of $750,000 for legal he performed for the trial firm Weitz & Luxenberg.
Here's how the New York Times is playing it:
The powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was arrested on federal corruption charges on Thursday and accused of using the power of his office to solicit millions in bribes and kickbacks, according to court documents. The arrest of Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who has served as speaker for more than two decades, sent shock waves through the political establishment and upending the new legislative session.
Mr. Silver surrendered to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents early Thursday morning in Lower Manhattan, law enforcement officials said. Mr. Silver, before entering 26 Federal Plaza, said, “I hope I’ll be vindicated.”
In a five-count criminal complaint outlining the charges, Mr. Silver is accused of “using the power and influence of his official position to obtain for himself millions of dollars of bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income.” He is charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion.
The Daily News has this to add:
A stunning five-count indictment accused the Manhattan Democrat, a state political fixture for decades, with pocketing more than $6 million in bribes and kickbacks in return for wielding his massive influence. Silver stands accused of pressuring real estate companies doing business with the state to hire two law firms that were regularly paying him bribes, the 35-page indictment charged.
More than half of the $6 million came after Silver steered $500,000 in state funds to a doctor who in turn referred asbestos cases to Weitz & Luxenberg, a personal injury firm affiliated with Silver for decades.
The state money was provided to the doctor for a research project and unspecified “additional benefits” to the doctor’s family, the indictment charges. Silver collected more than $3.2 million in referral fees from the law firm after directing more than 100 clients to Weitz & Luxenberg for asbestos litigation, the indictment charged.
New York state is essentially an organized crime racket, one that for many years was stable in its distribution of the swag. The upstate-controlled Senate was in the hands of the GOP under Joe Bruno, while the assembly lay under the thumb of the weaselly Silver. But somebody broke the peace back in 2008, when Bruno abruptly resigned his leadership positions and announced he wouldn't be running again; in January 2009 he was indicted on eight corruption counts, and later convicted of two of them. The convictions were overturned on appeal and Bruno was subsequently found not guilty at a retrial last year. He's been itching for payback ever since. This is it.
As for Cuomo, whose ham-fisted shutdown of the Moreland Commission opened this particular can of worms, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. After all, it's not like he wasn't warned:
In an escalation of the confrontation between the United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over the governor’s cancellation of his own anticorruption commission, Mr. Bharara has threatened to investigate the Cuomo administration for possible obstruction of justice or witness tampering.
The warning, in a sharply worded letter from Mr. Bharara’s office, came after several members of the panel issued public statements defending the governor’s handling of the panel, known as the Moreland Commission, which Mr. Cuomo created last year with promises of cleaning up corruption in state politics but shut down abruptly in March. Mr. Bharara’s office has been investigating the shutdown of the commission, and pursuing its unfinished corruption cases, since April.
And it's not like the Cuomo family doesn't have something to hide, either.
UPDATE: And the hits just keep on coming in the one-party city/state of Cuomo and Warren Wilhelm, Jr.:
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and one of her former political consultants are subjects of a city ethics probe, Crain's has learned. The noncriminal investigation, which is being conducted by the city's Conflicts of Interest Board, centers around Ms. Mark-Viverito's acceptance of free assistance during her 2013 race for council speaker, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.
The speaker recently paid $20,000 in campaign cash to a law firm to represent her in the investigation. In November 2014 and again this month, Ms. Mark-Viverito's campaign fund made $10,000 payments to Ballard Spahr Stillman & Friedman. The Conflicts of Interest Board has been deposing figures in the investigation.
In the midst of the competition to succeed Christine Quinn as speaker, the Daily News reported that Ms. Mark-Viverito's acceptance of pro bono help from the Advance Group—a prominent Manhattan lobbying and campaign consulting shop—could run afoul of a city ethics regulation. Good-government group Citizens Union called for the Conflicts of Interest Board to investigate.
A "good-government" group in solid-blue New York State? Ha ha ha ha ha!