Sheldon Silver, former speaker of the New York State Assembly,...

Sheldon Silver, former speaker of the New York State Assembly, exits federal court in lower Manhattan on Wednesday. Credit: Charles Eckert

A lobbyist testified Thursday that he helped to facilitate a deal that brought former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver about $700,000 in illegal payments from a tax firm.

Brian R. Meara, a lobbyist in the State Capitol for more than 40 years and a prosecution witness, said that he told an executive with Glenwood Management Corp. to send some of its tax challenges to attorney Jay Arthur Goldberg. Goldberg, who once worked for Silver, specialized in tax certiorari cases.

Glenwood, a mega-landlord, wanted to reduce the taxes on some of its Manhattan apartment buildings through the tax certiorari process, Meara said in the fourth day of Silver’s retrial on federal corruption charges.

The prosecution alleges Silver improperly received the $700,000 from Goldberg for steering tax cases to him from real estate developers seeking Silver’s support for legislation before the Assembly.

The developers wanted Silver — who led the Assembly for 21 years — to extend a state law giving tax breaks to developers of apartment buildings that include affordable units alongside luxury units, according to the federal indictment.

Meara testified Thursday in Manhattan federal court that he told Glenwood, his lobbying client of 20 years, to hire Goldberg “because he’s a tax certiorari lawyer and childhood friend of Sheldon Silver.”

Asked by a federal prosecutor why he mentioned Goldberg’s ties to Silver, Meara said, “I was trying to help Mr. Goldberg to get the work . . . I also told him [Glenwood executive] I didn’t know how good of a tax certiorari lawyer he was.”

In addition, Meara said he believes that Goldberg sought his help in securing legal work from Glenwood — at Silver’s suggestion. “I think Mr. Silver told him but I don’t know that,” the lobbyist testified.

Silver has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The trial will resume Monday with Meara returning to the witness chair. He told the 15-member jury that he was testifying against Silver, his friend of more than 40 years, under an agreement to avoid federal prosecution.

With Meara’s testimony, prosecutors began presenting evidence about Silver’s alleged quid pro quo scheme involving the real estate industry.

Silver, a Democrat from lower Manhattan, has been accused of exploiting his government position to extort nearly $4 million in bribes over about 10 years. He allegedly invested the money, making an additional $1 million, according to the indictment.

Earlier this week, jurors heard about another quid pro quo scheme centered on cancer patients being referred by Silver to a second Manhattan law firm.

The Weitz & Luxenberg firm paid Silver more than $3 million in referral fees from legal settlements and verdicts won on behalf of patients suffering from mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

Silver received names and contact information for people diagnosed with mesothelioma from Dr. Robert Taub, a then-Columbia University physician. Taub in turn won $500,000 in state research grants at Silver’s direction, according to the indictment.

Silver was “of counsel” to Weitz & Luxenberg, earning a salary of $120,000 per year.

The retrial, which began Monday, is a redo of Silver’s corruption trial in 2015 and conviction in 2016. The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Silver’s appeal request in 2017 but said there were grounds for another trial.

The appeals court said Judge Valerie E. Caproni’s instructions to jurors in 2015 did not comply with a later U.S. Supreme Court decision that narrowed the acts required to convict public officials in a quid pro quo bribery scheme to formal exercises of government power, not just meetings or telephone calls.

Earlier Thursday, the head of a Brooklyn charity testified that Silver asked him to find a job for Jonathan Taub, son of the Columbia doctor who provided cancer patients for Silver to refer to the Weitz & Luxenberg law firm.

Daniel Mandel, CEO of OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services in Brooklyn, said Silver wrote to him in 2012, saying “he would like me to look at a resume for Mr. Taub and to see if he might qualify for a job with us.”

Jonathan Taub eventually was hired to an entry-level position despite an unimpressive interview, Mandel said, adding Taub didn’t succeed in the job but was given a second chance with another position.

OHEL received $8 million in state funding between 2005 and 2015 from the Assembly.

Mandel, under cross-examination by one of Silver’s attorneys, said he didn’t feel threatened or coerced by Silver.

“Were you concerned if you didn’t hire Jonathan Taub that you would lose state funding?” asked Silver lawyer Michael S. Feldberg.

“No,” Mandel responded.

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