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New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Arrested By FBI on Political Corruption Charges

January 22, 2015  |  Posted by: Giovanni DePhillips
New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Arrested By FBI on Political Corruption Charges Image courtesy of nypost.com

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Multiple news sources are reporting that New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been arrested on public corruption charges and accused of using his position as one of the most powerful men in Albany to obtain millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income.

According to Fox News, the 70-year-old Silver was taken into custody around 8 a.m. Thursday morning at the FBI’s New York City office, FBI spokesman Peter Donald confirmed.

Silver was charged with a total of five counts,  including conspiracy and bribery charges.

The complaint alleges that Silver abused his power. “There is probable cause to believe Silver obtained about $4 million in payments characterized as attorney referral fees solely through the corrupt use of his official position.”

Silver’s attorney, Joel Cohen, denied the charges calling them “meritless.”

Cohen said in a statement: “Mr. Silver looks forward to responding to them — in court — and ultimately his full exoneration,” Cohen said in a statement.

Silver is expected in court today as news of his arrest shocked the entire state and comes just a day after Silver shared the same stage as Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the State of the State address.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara took over the files of New York’s Moreland anti-corruption commission after Cuomo closed it in April. He said in October that investigations into Albany’s pay-to-play politics are continuing.

The commission and Bharara investigating lawmakers’ additional earnings aside from their state salaries.

Rumors have persisted  about Silver’s income has long been a subject of scrutiny.

According to Fox News Last year, Silver reported making up to $750,000 for legal work, mostly with the trial firm of Weitz & Luxenberg.

As news of the commission began investigating public corruption in 2013, including Silver and other state politicians, Silver tried blocking any disclosure of information through multiple steps including taking legal action in the courts ” the complaint said.

Outside of the Governor and Senate Majority leader, Silver is one of the top three most powerful politicians in the State as Speaker, having a major role in creating state budgets, laws and policies in a system long-criticized in Albany as “three men in a room.”

Silver has gone toe-to-toe with five New York governors — from the late Mario Cuomo to his son Andrew Cuomo — since early 1994, when he was selected Assembly speaker to replace the ailing Saul Welprin.

Silver was first elected to the Assembly in 1976, representing a district on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where he was born and still lives with his wife, Rosa.

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