Corruption inquiry:N.Y. state assembly speaker charged with fraud - CVIEW NEWS

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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Corruption inquiry:N.Y. state assembly speaker charged with fraud

New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, one of the state's most powerful Democrats for more than two decades, was charged on Thursday with fraud and other criminal counts after a lengthy corruption investigation, federal authorities said.
Silver, a lawyer whose tenure as speaker since 1994 has outlasted governors, mayors and many other politicians, was accused of trying to conceal "corrupt sources" of outside income and using the power of his office to obtain millions in bribes and kickbacks.
Silver, who represents Manhattan's Lower East Side, is known as one of Albany's three most powerful men. The governor, Senate majority leader and assembly speaker have negotiated state budgets and key legislation.
According to Reuters, the Assembly canceled its Thursday session following Silver's arrest, less than two weeks after the new legislative session opened.
Silver, the latest in a long line of New York politicians involved in corruption scandals, allegedly received more than $6 million in income from two law firms since 2002. About $4 million of it was in exchange for his "corrupt and secret use," according to the criminal complaint.
"Silver used the power and influence of his official position to obtain for himself millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income earned by Silver as a private lawyer," the complaint said.
The case appeared to accelerate after federal authorities resurrected an investigation into corruption in Albany, the state capital. The probe had been started by a commission formed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who abruptly halted it.
After surrendering to authorities in lower Manhattan at about 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT), a somber-looking Silver headed to nearby federal court, wearing a dark suit and a black hat, his car mobbed by reporters and photographers.
"It is unfortunate that the prosecutors chose to pursue this as a criminal case," Silver's attorney, Steven Molo, said in an email. "We intend to vigorously contest the charges and Mr. Silver looks forward to his day in court."
If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on each of the charges, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
Silver, in the Assembly since 1977, has long been criticized for his continued employment in one of the state's larger private law practices. Critics say it posed a conflict with legislation that would be of interest to the firm, such as medical malpractice or tort reform.
The charges pending against Silver would mark the latest case of alleged wrongdoing by state lawmakers. At least 30 New York politicians have faced legal or ethics charges since 2000.
His longtime Senate counterpart, Joseph Bruno, was acquitted of taking bribes disguised as consulting fees from an upstate businessman.
One of Silver's predecessors as speaker, Mel Miller, was convicted of corruption in the early 1990s but the conviction was overturned by a federal appeals court.
Two former state Senate Democratic leaders, John Sampson and Malcolm Smith, are facing criminal charges.

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