A federal judge in Manhattan has rejected former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's motion to dismiss corruption charges against him based on technical claims that his complicated schemes did not constitute extortion or "honest services fraud" under federal law.
U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni also rejected Silver's bid to remove from the indictment an allegation that he took advantage of special investment opportunities, made available to him because of his prominence, to get lucrative returns on his criminal proceeds.
Silver's lawyer argued that the alleged conduct was not a crime and would make him seem "less accessible to the average juror," but Caproni said the allegation was relevant to a money-laundering charge.
"The allegations in the superseding indictment do not make Silver look like a Boy Scout," Caproni wrote, "but the government is entitled to charge that which it can prove through admissible evidence."
Silver, 71, was charged in January with mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion for allegedly taking $4 million in kickbacks.
The Manhattan Democrat resigned as speaker, but has retained his seat in the Assembly. His trial is set for Nov. 2.