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No ethics panel decision on sex harassment case

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) talks to reporters

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) talks to reporters after a news conference at the Capitol in Albany. (May 15, 2012). Photo Credit: AP

ALBANY -- The state ethics commission, which has been weighing a sexual harassment scandal that's entangled Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), met privately Tuesday and didn't announce any decision when it emerged.

Members of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics didn't comment after meeting behind closed doors for about an hour.

At issue are sexual allegations against Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) and a secret settlement approved by Silver. The Assembly agreed to pay $135,000 -- $103,000 in public money -- to two former Lopez staffers and their attorneys to settle the case.

The episode is the subject of a civil investigation by the state ethics commission and a criminal probe by a special prosecutor. Silver has acknowledged he mishandled the case by not sending the complaints to the Assembly Ethics Committee.

The commission also has asked for information from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, whose offices approved the payment.

Lopez has resisted calls from Silver and others to resign his Assembly seat. -- Staff reports

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