Just one day after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his agenda for the coming year, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested for federal corruption charges. A Democrat, Silver is considered to be one of the most powerful members of the New York state government, where he has served since 1994.
According to court documents filed late last month, Silver is charged with five counts of fraud and conspiracy. The Washington Post reports that prosecutors allege he used his position to take millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks, which he masked as legitimate income earned as a lawyer over 15 years. “A pure, classic shakedown-extortion scheme is what is alleged here,” further explains Miami-based attorney Kendall Coffey on Newsmax, of the charges against him and how they came to be.
Because this year’s legislative session was just commencing, this political scandal has left the people of New York feeling very unsettled. “The arrest of Mr. Silver, 70, immediately upended the state government, throwing the capital into convulsions just as this year’s legislative session gets underway,” write William K. Rashbaum and Thomas Kaplan for The New York Times. Rashbaum and Kaplan also refer to Silver as “the most powerful Democrat in the Legislature.”
“Silver took advantage of the political pulpit to benefit from unlawful profits,” said FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Richard Frankel. Frankel, along with US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, announced the arrest of Silver on January 22, 2015. Frankel also commented, “We hold our elected representatives to the highest standards and expect them to act in the best interest of their constituents. In good faith, we turst they will do so while defending the fundamental tenets of the legal system. But as we are reminded today, those who make the laws don’t have the right to break the laws.”
Learn more about the indictment of Sheldon Silver in this report of the incident from The New York Times.