New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested by FBI agents on Thursday morning. Although the nature of the charges were not disclosed, Silver was named in a 2013 corruption probe initiated by the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption.
According to reports, the probe was sparked by inconsistencies in a financial disclosure form. In 2013, Sheldon Silver reported earning “between $650,000 and $750,000 from outside legal work.” As reported by Wall Street Journal, the earnings were in addition to his state salary of $121,000.
On the form, Silver listed the law firm Weitz & Luxenberg as the source of his additional income. However, officials believe a large portion of his income was actually received from Goldberg & Iryami, which specializes in real estate law. Sheldon Silver is accused of failing to include his work with Goldberg & Iryamion on the financial disclosure form.
Although the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption was disbanded in April 2014, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, continued the investigation into the speaker’s income. In late December, the Federal Bureau of Investigation joined the probe.
Sheldon Silver has held the position of New York Assembly Speaker for 21 years. On January 7, he was re-elected again “with broad support.” Although he has faced controversy, Silver remains a powerful and influential public official.
Speaker Silver should resign for the good of the people of New York
— Senator Brad Hoylman (@bradhoylman) January 22, 2015
In early 2013, the speaker was named in civil lawsuit, which stemmed from allegations of sexual harassment. As reported by Newsday, former Assemblyman Vito Lopez was accused of sexually harassment by several female staffers.
As stated in the lawsuit, Silver made a “discretionary decision” to pay the first accuser a settlement of $103,000. Lopez was later disciplined, as more women came forward with similar accusations. However, the civil lawsuit accused Sheldon Silver of violating “the constitution by using taxpayers’ money for a ‘private undertaking.'”
State Supreme Court Justice Kimberly O’Connor later dismissed the lawsuit, citing the “doctrine of governmental immunity.” Although Silver enjoyed a brief victory, he was struck with another controversy six months later.
Silver’s attorneys, Joel Cohen and Steven Molo, have called the corruption accusations “meritless.” In an official statement, the firm said they are “disappointed that the prosecutors have chosen to proceed” with criminal charges. However, they said the speaker is looking “forward to responding to them — in court.”
Although Sheldon Silver was arrested by the FBI, his attorneys insist he is innocent and will be exonerated.
[Image via Daily News]