New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is expected to be arrested by federal authorities and charged Thursday on corruption charges, The New York Times reports.
According to the Times, the charges against Silver, a longtime Democrat state representative from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who has held the speakership for over 20 years, stem from an investigation that began after Gov. Andrew Cuomo shut down in March what was supposed to be an independent investigative body, known as the Moreland Commission. The commission was founded two years ago to examine government corruption in his administration.
The Times writes that a source “with knowledge of the matter” claims the charges come from payments Silver received from law firm Goldberg & Iryami. The firm specializes in asking for decreases in New York City real estate taxes.
The total amount of the payments is unknown, but another person has said they were substantial and were made over several years. Another Times source said that the payouts to Silver were substantial and made over a period of years.
Prior the news of speaker’s expected indictment, Silver has mostly avoided talking to reporters about the investigation that is headed up by federal prosecutors under Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.
New York state allows its lawmakers to continue serving even after they are arrested. However, members of public office will be forced to resign if they are convicted of a felony. Silver’s expected arrest is likely to throw some confusion into New York’s lower chamber as the new session is just getting started.
Silver, the most powerful Democrat in the state legislature, found himself under scrutiny when he was accused of allowing a culture of sexual harassment in Albany to continue. After a Democratic assemblyman was forced out of office in 2012 for sexually harassing women in the state capitol, the GOP wanted Silver to step down from his post as speaker.
Additionally, the New York Post reported after the scandal that a source “with ties to Cuomo” said the governor is believed that Silver would not be able to stay as speaker. Some aides to Cuomo, the NY Post reported, went as far to say at the time, “Shelly is going down” or, at best, is “damaged goods.”