Sheldon Silver in talks to step down: source | New York Post

The NY Post is reporting that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will accept a deal whereby he temporarily relinquishes his position and allowing a five-person team led by veteran Assemblyman Denny Farrell, chairman of the Ways & Mean Committee, to assume his responsibilities.

Since will take at least 18 months to 2-years for his trial to conclude, Silver is likely out permanently as Speaker, thus he will fail in his bid to go down in history as the State Assembly’s longest-serving Speaker. Instead, Silver faces the ignominy that accompanies his failure to make legitimate political history.

The NY Post reported: " Under intense pressure to step down, Speaker Sheldon Silver was in talks Sunday to give up his position as New York’s most’s powerful legislator, sources said.Silver was in talks with fellow Democrats to relinquish his title as Speaker of the Assembly as he fights federal corruption charges, according to sources.

He was accused of steering real estate developers to a law firm that paid him kickbacks."

Read more here => http://nypost.com/2015/01/25/sheldon-silver-to-step-down-temporarily/

Michael Benjamin

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INTERACTIVE: Follow Sheldon Silver’s Secret Money Trail – Lower East Side – DNAinfo.com New York

Sheldon Silver’s Secret Income

Prosecutors allege that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver received millions of dollars in kickbacks from two law firms for work he never did. They claim Silver never reported any income from an unnamed real estate firm and vastly underreported income from the firm Weitz & Luxenberg.Reported Income*Unreported Income – Weitz & LuxenbergUnreported Income – Real Estate Firm2014500,000Unreported Income – Real Estate Firm20022003100,000.00200420,000.003,606.172005200620072008200920102011201220132014*Silver’s reported income only includes payments from Weitz & Luxenberg. Records from 2002 and 2003 are incomplete, and Silver’s 2014 income report was not included in court files.

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150122/lower-east-side/chart-follow-sheldon-silvers-secret-money-trail

Michael Benjamin

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Silver’s scandal complicates Malcolm Smith’s bribery trial | New York Post

White Plains federal Judge Kenneth Karas delayed the start of closing arguments [in Sen. Malcolm Smith's corruption trial] so he could question all 16 jurors one-by-one about whether they had heard of the Silver case — in which the state Assembly speaker is accused of taking $4 million in bribes and kickbacks.

After about 45 minutes, Karas decided the case could continue.

More => http://nypost.com/2015/01/23/silvers-scandal-complicates-malcolm-smiths-bribery-trial/

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Preet remains New York’s only hope | New York Post

An excerpt from today’s New York Post column:

As a former Assembly member, I’m disappointed to see the media and public contempt for politicians justified, again and again.

I feel badly for the great number of my former colleagues who labor honestly on behalf of their constituents and their ideals.

But I fault them — and myself — for not demanding better of legislative leaders and those who put themselves forward for leadership.

The Assembly rated 42 percent favorable, 41 percent unfavorable in the last Siena poll. Speaker Silver scored a dismal 21 percent favorable, 37 percent unfavorable rating.And in a December Quinnipiac poll, only 28 percent of New York voters approved of the job being done by the Legislature. Fifty-eight percent voiced disapproved of their state legislators.

Gov. Cuomo’s suspension last year of the Moreland Commission’s investigations into political corruption in Albany (investigations that Bharara soon took over) called into question his commitment to ending business as usual in the state capitol.

But to his credit, the governor put a stop to legislative member items. For venal legislators, member items were a trough from which they and their cronies fed. It’s what allowed Silver to allegedly send $500,000 to that physician.Yesterday’s arrest of and complaint against Silver after an 18-month investigation demonstrate that his office wasn’t working the Moreland investigations on anyone’s schedule but his own.

Bharara and his team of prosecutors and investigators have been meticulous in the cases they’ve put together. At the news conference discussing the Silver arrest, he concluded by saying, “Our unfinished fight on public corruption continues. You should stay tuned.”
image

Read the entire column here =>
http://nypost.com/2015/01/22/preet-remains-new-yorks-only-hope/

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City & State – Corruption Case Against Silver is Strong, Legal Experts Say

In a bombshell announcement today, federal prosecutors accused Silver, one of the state’s most powerful Democrats, of using his elected office to amass millions of dollars through bribes and kickbacks disguised as legitimate payments in an outside job as a private attorney.

According to Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, some $700,000 came from real estate developers with business before the state, funneled to Silver through a real estate law firm run by his former counsel.

In another scheme, he allegedly directed research funds and additional benefits to a doctor who referred asbestos patients to a personal injury law firm that paid Silver nearly $4 million for what prosecutors described as a no-show job.

Silver’s attorneys have dismissed the allegations as “meritless” and predicted a “full exoneration” of their client.

Read the complete article here.

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Days Without a NYS Lawmaker Arrested/Indicted | PolHudson.lohudblogs.com

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Meet The Doctor At Center of the Silver Corruption Investigation

Via Capital New York – Scott Waldman and Laura Nahimas

Bharara Explains Alleged Kickbacks Scheme

Bharara Explains Alleged Kickbacks Scheme

ALBANY—The federal corruption case against Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver rests in part on his alleged scheme with a doctor who referred asbestos cases to the Weitz & Luxenberg law firm where Silver is of counsel.

A criminal complaint from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara alleges that Silver obtained referrals of asbestos cases from a doctor affiliated with a university in Manhattan, referred to as “Doctor-1,” by using his position as speaker to quietly direct $500,000 in state funds to the doctor’s research and give “additional benefits” to the doctor and the doctor’s family.

Dr Robert Taub - Photo via Capital NY (curesmo.org)

Dr Robert Taub – Photo via Capital NY (curemeso.org)

The Doctor-1 described in the criminal complaint appears to be Dr. Robert Taub of Columbia University, based on details outlined in the criminal complaint, and confirmed by a secretary at his office and separately by a knowledgeable source. Taub specializes in mesothelioma research, for which it is hard to find research funding.

Reached by phone Thursday at his office, a secretary for Taub said he was the person identified in the federal complaint. “Yes, he is,” the secretary said.

She said she did not know whether he had retained an attorney, and later walked back her confirmation that he is in fact the doctor identified in the complaint.

“I don’t know exactly if he is, but people have been calling,” she said.

She declined to say whether Taub had a lawyer.

Doctor-1 has not been charged with any wrongdoing in the case; U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said today the doctor had entered into a non-prosecution agreement in exchange for his cooperation with the investigation.

Silver allegedly received millions of dollars in referral fees from Weitz & Luxenberg, and was credited with referring more than 100 clients, many of whom were referred for asbestos cases, according to the complaint.

The firm paid Silver $3.2 million for referrals related to asbestos cases between 2003 and 2014, according to the complaint. Prosecutors claim that several of those asbestos clients said they had been referred to Doctor-1 for treatment, and said the doctor had also recommended they retain Weitz & Luxenberg as their counsel.

The complaint says Doctor-1 founded the Mesothelioma Center at a New York hospital affiliated with a university.

Taub helped found the Mesothelioma Center at Columbia University and is the Vivian and Seymour Milstein Family professor of clinical medicine at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.

He is a “medical oncologist and hematologist with a special interest in the diagnosis, clinical care, and investigation of patients with malignant mesothelioma and soft tissue sarcoma,” according to an online biography on the school’s website.

A spokesman for Columbia University Medical Center, asked to verify whether or not Taub is the doctor named in the complaint, said, “We can’t comment on any legal matter.”

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment.

The complaint refers to a May 2011 resolution sponsored by Silver that honors Doctor-1.

Taub was honored in a May 2011 resolution sponsored by Silver for “developing unique new treatment algorithms utilizing intracavitary chemotherapy for multimodal treatment of abdominal mesothelioma and for lung-sparing treatment of pleural mesothelioma,” state records show.

The complaints say the scheme began when the doctor allegedly asked Silver if his firm would help fund mesothelioma research and Silver declined. But prosecutors claim the doctor became aware that Silver wanted him to refer asbestos patients to Silver and the law firm for counsel, in exchange for funding for his medical research.

Doctor-1 started referring patients to Silver, and Silver began directing state funding to the doctor’s research, the complaint alleges.

In December 2003, Doctor-1 requested a $250,000 grant from Silver to establish a Mesothelioma center at a university, according to the complaint. The complaint also says that the request was granted, and Silver approved payment from a pool of discretionary funds paid for by health care-related assessments that was under Silver’s sole control until the year 2007.

Silver later directed another grant from the same pool of funds, also worth $250,000, to the Mesothelioma Center.

In 2008, the speaker directed a further $25,000 discretionary member item grant to a not-for-profit where the doctor was a board member, according to the complaint.

In 2012, the complaint alleges that Doctor-1 asked Silver for help in finding a family member a job with a nonprofit organization that “received millions of dollars in member items and capital funding from Silver.”

The head of the organization, which is not named, told investigators that it was the only time Silver asked the nonprofit organization to consider hiring anyone. The organization hired the doctor’s family member.

Weitz & Luxenberg derives more than 60 percent of its revenue for asbestos cases, according to the complaint. Mesothelioma cases are among the most lucrative of those cases because of the “disease’s clear causal link with asbestos exposure, pain and suffering caused by the disease,” the complaint details.

Silver had no official involvement in the asbestos practice of Weitz & Luxenberg, according to the complaint.

The complaint alleges that Doctor-1 became known to Silver through a mutual friend.

Silver’s attorneys earlier released a statement calling the charges against the speaker “meritless,” and said, “Mr. Silver looks forward to responding to them—in court—and ultimately his full exoneration.”

 

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Reblog: Morning Memo – Assembly Speaker Silver Arrest Imminent

Report: Silver to be Arrested on Corruption ChargesThe New York Times reports that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is expected to be arrested on corruption charges today in connection with an investigation into his outside income.

The speaker’s attorney, Joel Cohen, declined to comment to the NYT. There has been no word so far from Silver’s spokesman. The Assembly is scheduled to be in session this morning, and the Democrats are slated to conference at 10 a.m.

The exact charges that the speaker will face remain unclear, though federal investigators have been looking into his work with Goldberg & Iryami, a Manhattan firm that specializes in challenging real estate assessments.

The speaker didn’t report the firm on his state financial disclosure form, citing only his role as “of counsel” to the personal-injury law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg.

If this report is true, it will throw the 2015 legislative session, which just got underway with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s delivery of his State of the State/budget address yesterday, into chaos.

There is no clear successor to Silver, who was just re-elected to a second two-year term as speaker and is the longest-serving legislative leader in Albany.

It’s possible the Assembly Democrats will elect a caretaker speaker to get them through this session – someone like Codes Committee Chairman Joe Lentol, of Brooklyn, or Ways and Means Committee Chairman Denny Farrell Jr., of Manhattan – both veteran members of the chamber (and close Silver allies).

There will likely be a significant battle for the speakership, should the position indeed become vacant.

Though Silver has had his share of problems – from a failed coup mounted in 2000 by ex-Central New York Assemblyman Michael Bragman to, more recently, the spate of sexual harassment scandals to the recent NYT reports on the US attorney’s probe into his unreported outside legal work – no lawmakers have been seriously trying to put together a coalition of support to oust him.

Members mentioned in the past as potential Silver replacements include:

– Assemblyman Keith Wright, the Housing Committee chairman, current Manhattan Democratic chair and former NYS Democratic chair.

– Assemblyman Carl Heastie, the Bronx Democratic chairman.

– Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, of Rochester. (This is unlikely since an upstater would have a tough time getting elected as head of the downstate-domionated conference, and Morelle is close to Cuomo, which could be perceived as a detriment by his colleagues).

Silver was in Albany yesterday and sat on the stage in the Empire State Convention Center for Cuomo’s big speech.

He was taciturn as ever, showing absolutely no sign of the potential trouble ahead.

The speaker evenchatted calmly with reporters, questioning the legality of the two-tiered legislative compensation system that the governor floated in his 2015 Opportunity Agenda.

So far, there hasn’t been a lot in the way of reaction from lawmakers in Albany. (It’s pretty early yet, and the NYT story broke after midnight).

But Democratic District Leader Paul Newell, one of two Democrats who mounted long-shot and unsuccessfulprimary challenges to Silver in 2008 – the speaker’s first Democratic primary contest in over two decades – was the first to release a statement.

Newell, who represents the 65th AD (Silver’s district), said if the report of the speaker’s imminent arrest is true, then it is a “sad day for Lower Manhattan, and a sad day for New York.”

“I can’t speak to the specific charges against the Speaker,” Newell added. “But I can say that outside income for legislators is a certain recipe for corruption. Speaker Silver and Majority Leader Skelos should have banned it long ago.”

“The 65th Assembly District, and all New Yorkers, deserve better.”

If Silver is lead away in cuffs today, it will definitely strengthen the position of Cuomo is many ways – not the least of which is his push for a cap on outside income by state lawmakers and more transparency in the reporting of what they earn while moonlighting.

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Rangel Isn’t Surprised by Powell Bid | Daily Politics Blog

Charlie Rangel isn’t surprised by Adam Clayton Powell IV’s announcementTuesday that he will run to succeed Rangel, who plans to retire after his current term ends in 2016.

“I don’t remember a time Adam Clayton Powell wasn’t running,” the longtime Harlem Rep. quipped in an interview Tuesday night after President Obama’s State of the Union address.“He always wanted succeed his father,” Rangel said, referring to legendary Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who Rangel defeated in 1970.

“He’s invested a lot of time in public service,” Rangel continued. “As have many other public officials that served our community, and served it well. I think this will be a great opportunity [to see if] candidates can actually get support from the diversified community that I’ve had the privilege of serving for close to half a century.”“So if names were mentioned as to who would succeed me, it doesn’t surprise me that Adam Clayton Powell’s name would be included,” Rangel said.

Read the complete Daily Politics blog:
http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dc/rangel-remember-powell-wasn-running-blog-entry-1.2086897

Rangel Isn’t Surprised by Powell Bid

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Adam Clayton Powell IV Declares For Congress

ACP IVIn an email to friends and supporters yesterday, former assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV declared his unambiguous intention to run for Congress in 2016. He begins his email, “Now that Congressman Charlie Rangel has begun his last term, it’s time to begin the journey to replace him.”

ACP IV-CBRangelPowell seeks to fill the expected vacancy in the Upper Manhattan/Bronx’s 13th congressional district when Rep. Charles Rangel retires. Powell campaigned vigorously for his one-time rival in the primary battle against State Senator Adriano Espaillat in 2014.

ADAM CLAYTON POWELL

REP. ADAM CLAYTON POWELL JR

Powell faces the daunting challenge of running federal office at the same time as other legacies Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush seek the presidency. That Harlem district has only been represented by Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. and Charles Rangel (who defeated Powell in 1970) in the last 70 years.

Powell is the first candidate to officially declare for that seat. Others mentioned as possible successors to Rangel include City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito [The Observer reports CM Viverito says she is not running for Congress], CM Inez Dickens, Assemblymembers Keith Wright and Robert Rodriguez, as well as Rev. Michael Waldron finished 3rd behind Rangel and Espaillat in 2014.

Rev. Kelmy Rodriquez, a local community leader, said that as this point in time, “Adam is my choice.” Rev. Rodriguez left open the possibility of changing his mind should Manhattan County Leader, Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright announce that he was running.

In his email, Adam Powell IV mentions that fact and pledged to “preserve the rich history of these last 70 years” by being a progressive voice, too. And he asked supporters to join him “in this exciting journey.”

And interesting political journey it be for a district in transition.

Powell IV’s email is excerpted below:

CBRangel

Rep. Charles B. Rangel

“Now that Congressman Charlie Rangel has begun his last term, it’s time to begin the journey to replace him. The 13th Congressional District covers most of Northern Manhattan and parts of the Northwest Bronx. It has been represented by two legendary figures: my father, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (who created the seat and became the first African American Congressman from NY 1944-1970) and Charles B. Rangel (1970-Present). We need a progressive voice to preserve the rich history of these last 70 years. I intend to run for that seat.

This is not an exploratory committee; I’ve been exploring this district for over 20 years. It’s time to run. I know this congressional district as well as anyone. From El Barrio to Harlem to Washington Heights & Inwood to the Bronx, I’ve represented various parts of this district in the City Council and in the State Assembly. Most of the leaders in these various neighborhoods are people I know and have worked with throughout the years…”

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