Back in 2010….
Silver Responds To Paladino ‘Criminal’ Slam
05 October 2010, 2:58 pm by Nick Reisman Speaking at a Crain’s New York Business function earlier today, Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino called Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, a criminal and warned legislators “don’t mess with me.” It’s a long line in a list of jabs Paladino, a wealthy Buffalo businessman, has taken at Silver, the powerful Assembly speaker whose held the post since 1994. Paladino has suggested he would take Silver up to an upstate prison and allow townspeople along the way to “beat up on him a little.” Silver this afternoon issued a brief statement saying he won’t get bogged down “into the gutter with Mr. Paladino.” “It is unfortunate that New Yorkers are being forced to endure the insulting and baseless hectoring of the Republican candidate for governor,” Silver said. “I will not get into the gutter with Mr. Paladino, nor dignify his comments with a response. Rather, I will let New Yorkers judge his fitness for public office.” _______________________________________________
November 30, 2015 | 4:10pm
Ex-New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arrives at court in Manhattan on Nov. 30.
Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted Monday in a $5 million public-corruption case, cementing a stunning fall from power that exposed Albany’s sleazy culture of influence-peddling — and showed that it reached to the top.
On its third day of rocky deliberations, a Manhattan federal jury handed down guilty verdicts on all seven counts against Silver, despite two jurors threatening to throw the trial into turmoil by demanding to be excused.
Silver, a 71-year-old veteran lawmaker who was once one of the most powerful politicians in the state, was found guilty of honest-services fraud, extortion and money-laundering for trading political favors to enrich himself and then lying about it.
He now faces a maximum of 130 years behind bars, although under federal sentencing guidelines, he will likely get no more than 20 years. Silver, who remains free on bail until his sentencing, plans to appeal.
The conviction forced Silver to give up his Assembly seat.
Even in a state capital where more than 30 lawmakers have left office facing criminal charges or allegations of ethical misconduct since 2000, the case against Silver was an extraordinary turn.
And his prosecution was a marquee case in Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara’s quest to clean up a state government he has called a “cauldron of corruption.”
Modal Trigger Manhattan US Attorney Preet BhararaPhoto: David McGlynn
“Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York,’’ Bharara said in a brief statement.
A fidgety Silver looked deflated as the jurors delivered their verdict. He glanced at Bharara, who was in the courtroom with his top deputies. At one point, Bharara shook hands with and slapped the backs of his prosecution team.
“I am disappointed, and I will be working on [an appeal] with my attorney,’’ a grim Silver said as left court, climbing into a black Chevy Suburban SUV.
It wasn’t an easily won battle for government prosecutors.
“There was a lot of holdouts. It was hard . . . on the last day and the day before,’’ said “Juror No. 11,” cabby Kenneth Graham, who earlier Monday tried to get excused from the case, citing a relationship between the man who leases him his cab and Silver that he became aware of over the weekend.
During the first day of deliberations last week, juror Arlene Phillips asked the judge to take her off the case because she said she was being bullied by other jurors. The judge refused.
Phillips, a 53-year-old Verizon technician from Mount Vernon in Westchester, admitted outside court that she was the lone holdout up until about 3 p.m. Monday.
She said she initially was convinced that the state grant money Silver steered to a cancer doctor in exchange for lucrative patient referrals to his law firm was just “good will” on Silver’s part.
Modal Trigger The verdict against Sheldon Silver.Photo: Shirley Shepard
“But today, after going through more evidence, I saw it differently,” Phillips said, referring to “disclosure forms that hid certain money.”
“I was wondering why wouldn’t it be out in the open like other things, why was this hidden.”
Phillips said she would have liked to have heard from Silver himself. He never took the stand.
“At first, I thought he was a non-assuming, humble person, and I wanted to hear his voice to determine if there was an arrogance or anything that showed me that he is capable of being deceitful, and I didn’t see that for the longest,” the juror said.
“I gave him the benefit of the doubt. And it was disappointing. I still think he is humble and unassuming, but he may have this other side that he feels that as speaker . . . he was entitled to do the things he did.”
Juror Bianca Maynard, 37, of The Bronx, said that despite Phillips’ claim, “no one was bullied” during deliberations.
“There was no yelling or screaming or pushing around. We went in last week and reviewed the material over and over,” Maynard said. “She just wasn’t convinced last week.”
“Between 3:30 and 4 today, the one juror who initially disagreed felt comfortable saying that we were all set to go with the guilty verdict.”
The verdict came nearly a year after the Lower East Side Democrat was arrested.
The arrest, which sent political shock waves throughout the state, forced Silver to resign his leadership post, but he held on to his Assembly seat, which he had been in for nearly 40 years. He served as Assembly speaker for half that time.
Under state law, Silver’s conviction automatically booted him from office and barred him from ever again holding any state position.
The verdict came midway through the corruption trial of Silver’s one-time counterpart in the state Senate, former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who is charged in an unrelated influence-peddling scheme along with his son, Adam.
Modal Trigger Sheldon Silver (right) and Dean Skelos in 2012 Photo: AP
Silver and Skelos were part of Albany’s “three men in a room,” which refers to the Legislature’s two leaders and governor, who together decide the state’s budget and legislative direction.
Dean Skelos refused to comment on Silver’s conviction, saying only, “My case is what I’m focused on.”
During Silver’s five-week trial, prosecutors presented an array of evidence that included testimony from co-conspirators who were cooperating with prosecutors to avoid getting charged in the case.
Columbia University cancer doctor Robert Taub — who got $500,000 in taxpayer-funded research grants from Silver — testified that he steered dozens of asbestos patients to Silver for legal representation by his law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg.
Silver, who was “of counsel” at the firm, pocketed more than $3 million for delivering those clients, testimony revealed.
Albany lobbyist Brian Meara testified that he set up a meeting between Silver and an exec at the developer Glenwood Management, which hired another law firm with ties to Silver to handle its property-tax litigation.
Silver got more than $700,000 from the firm of Goldberg & Iryami, with Meara testifying that he was “surprised and concerned” when Silver revealed the fee-splitting arrangement to him.
Silver ‘used his official position for his own personal profit’
Former Assembly Majority Leader Paul A. Tokasz Derek Gee/Buffalo News file photo
on November 30, 2015 – 10:13 PM
, updated November 30, 2015 at 10:50 PM
Lament, on the one hand, and vitriol, on the other, greeted news that former Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was found guilty on federal corruption charges related to his time in office.
Paul A. Tokasz of Cheektowaga, Silver’s second-in-command for five years as majority leader of the Assembly, called Monday’s verdict “sad on many levels, understandable on other levels.”
“Unfortunately, he will be remembered for this as opposed to all the good the delegation and he did for Western New York,” he said.
Others, like former gubernatorial candidate Carl P. Paladino, were more than ready to proclaim “vindication” for years of pointed criticism of Silver.
“This day will go down in history as a day of infamy,” Paladino said, proclaiming Silver as “crooked as the day is long.”
Silver was first elected to the Assembly nearly 40 years ago and served more than half that time as Assembly speaker, arguably making him the most powerful man in New York politics until he was forced to resign after his arrest in January. His conviction Monday on seven counts of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering came after five-week long trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
“This is not the person I knew,” said Tokasz “but this verdict has been made perfectly clear by the unanimous decision of a jury on seven counts.”
Tokasz recited a litany of projects he said were initiated by the Western New York delegation and that were supported by the speaker. They include hundreds of millions of dollars for Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Shea’s Performing Arts Center, the Hauptmann-Woodward Institute, Burchfield Penney Art Center, statewide pre-K education, and seed money for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.
On the other end of the political spectrum, Republican Assemblyman Ray Walter of Amherst said Silver’s conviction highlights a desperate need for real reform in the state Legislature.
“Absolute power leads to corruption; no one should ever be able to amass the power that Silver wielded these last 20 years. We need to enact serious reforms that will open up the legislative process and limit the amount of power one person can accumulate,” Walter said in a written statement.
The Assembly Minority Conference earlier this year proposed some rules changes, including imposing term limits on leaders which, Walter said, were rejected by the Democratic majority.
“What’s most disturbing is that Silver still will collect his taxpayer-funded pension. It should be a top priority in the Legislature to enact pension forfeiture laws immediately, Walter added.
Meanwhile, Democratic Assemblyman Sean Ryan of Buffalo said Silver’s downfall should be a clear signal to Albany that both chambers of the state Legislature need to reform rules to severely restrict outside employment.
“Sheldon Silver took advantage of the system, and used his official position for his own personal profit. He was able to do it because there are no restrictions on outside employment and lax conflict of interest rules,” said Ryan in a statement Monday.
Another local Democrat and a veteran of 38 years in the Assembly, Robin L. Schimminger of Kenmore, said he expects an appeal of the guilty verdict and predicted the “final chapter has yet to be written.”
“I was surprised by the verdict, but I have faith in the judicial system,” he said.
Paladino expressed no such surprise to Monday’s verdict. During his statewide gubernatorial campaign, the current Buffalo School Board member accused Silver of a “terrible, terrible conflict of interest” by blocking reforms that would prevent him from collecting fees from his private legal practice. Paladino said then he will not “play in that sandbox.”
“I’m going to turn him upside down and shake out every dollar he’s stolen,” Paladino said in 2010. “I’m going to put him on a bus – hopefully to Attica – and if not, far, far away. We’re going to bring back democracy that hasn’t been co-opted by the sandbox.”
On Monday, Paladino was only slightly more subdued. He recalled the flak he said he incurred from New York City reporters in 2010 for criticizing Silver, and proclaimed Monday as “an awesome day for the people of the State of New York.” “Hopefully, this will have an impact with those people in Albany and maybe we get a better quality of person in the job,” Paladino added.