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Revised indictment adds to charges against Silver

Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver

Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) leaves Southern District Federal Court in Manhattan after his arraignment on corruption charges on Feb. 24, 2015. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

ALBANY -- A grand jury revised its indictment of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Thursday, dividing up earlier charges and adding a new money-laundering charge that accuses him of granting favors to an investor that let him hide ill-gotten gains.

When it originally indicted Silver in February, the grand jury filed one count each of mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara accused Silver of pocketing bribes disguised as legal fees involving asbestos litigation and challenges of property-tax assessment.

In a new, superseding indictment, Silver (D-Manhattan) now faces seven charges. The grand jury filed wire fraud, mail fraud and extortion involving the alleged asbestos scheme and the same three charges for the tax assessment. It added a new charge of "monetary transactions involving criminal proceeds," essentially accusing Silver of hiding ill-gotten gains through a series of financial transactions.

Silver, the indictment alleged, transferred $340,000 in 2011 from his own bank account to an investment account "in the name of a family member" so he could avoid mentioning the money in his annual financial disclosure statement. By 2015, Silver "had transferred $642,000" from his own account to the investment account, the indictment continued.

Silver did not pay any fee to the investor, who wasn't named in the document. Instead, "Silver took certain official actions as requested" by the investor, the indictment alleged, adding that the investor was not aware of the source of Silver's money.

Bharara's office declined to comment on the reasons for filing the superseding indictment.

Silver's attorney didn't immediately comment.

Silver, one of the most powerful men in New York politics over the past 21 years, is alleged to have steered real-estate legislation and funneled state medical research funds in return for $4 million in kickbacks disguised as legal referral fees. Silver, 71, has pleaded not guilty and has said he will be "vindicated."

Under pressure from his colleagues, Silver resigned Feb. 2 as speaker but has retained his Assembly seat.

One scheme allegedly involved getting a doctor to refer asbestos patients to Silver's law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg of Manhattan. Silver allegedly received $3.3 million in referral fees and, in exchange, used a health-care fund he controlled to direct $500,000 to the doctor's research hospital. Silver now is on leave from the law firm.


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