A second juror asks to be excused from deliberations in Sheldon Silver …

1 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A second juror asks to be excused from deliberations in Sheldon Silver corruption trial.

NEW YORK — Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, formerly one of New York’s most powerful politicians, was convicted Monday of charges that he traded favors to earn $5 million illegally and then lied about it.A jury found the 71-year-old former Assembly Speaker guilty on all seven corruption charges Tuesday, sending a powerful message to politicians in New York’s capital.

A juror in the Sheldon Silver case asked Monday to be removed from deliberations after learning the taxi medallion he leases is owned by a “very rich man” with ties to the former state Assembly Speaker. The Manhattan federal court jury returned the verdict after a three-week trial in which prosecutors claimed that the 71-year-old Democrat repeatedly promised the favors to enrich himself. A Manhattan federal jury deliberated fewer than three days before finding the veteran lawmaker guilty of seven charges of honest-services fraud, extortion and money laundering.

Jurors had appeared to be in disarray several times during deliberations, with one demanding to be taken off the panel because she said other members were hassling her over her views, and another claiming a newly discovered conflict of interest. Silver, 71, a Democrat who served more than two decades as the Assembly speaker before he was forced to resign after his arrest in January, will automatically forfeit the Assembly seat to which he was first elected nearly 40 years ago. The 69-year-old Bronx taxi driver sent Judge Valerie Caproni a note, saying he could no longer serve because of a conflict he learned about over the four-day holiday weekend.

The decision cemented a stunning fall from grace that began when the Manhattan Democrat was busted in January following more than three decades as one of state’s most powerful pols. Monday’s verdict came midway through the corruption trial of Silver’s onetime counterpart in the state Senate, former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who’s charged in an unrelated influence-peddling scheme along with his son, Adam. Attorney Preet Bharara, who slammed Albany as “a cauldron of corruption” when he announced charges against the Lower East Side democrat in January. Carponi excused the cabbie from the room at least five times as both sides debated how to inquire about the conflict without learning anything about deliberations, which must remain secret.

Shortly after deliberations began last Tuesday, a juror begged in a note to be dropped from deliberations, saying other jurors were bullying her and “making me feel very, very uncomfortable.” Silver, who maintains he did nothing wrong and will be vindicated at trial, stepped down from his post after his January arrest, but he retains his Assembly seat. During Silver’s 3-1/2 week trial, prosecutors presented an array of evidence that included testimony from co-conspirators who turned rat to avoid getting charged in the case.

Columbia University cancer doctor Robert Taub — who got $500,000 in taxpayer-funded research grants from Silver — testified that he steered dozens of asbestos victims to Silver for legal representation by the Weitz & Luxenberg law firm. Silver is the most prominent of a string of state lawmakers who have been convicted by prosecutors in the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. Silver — who changed his position on legislation extending real-estate tax abatements and blocking stricter rent regulations — got more than $700,000 from the firm of Goldberg & Iryami, with Meara testifying that he was both “surprised and concerned” when Silver revealed the fee-splitting arrangement.

Bharara said that the charges against him made it clear that “the show-me-the-money culture of Albany has been perpetuated and promoted at the very top of the political food chain.” His conviction comes as Mr. Prosecutors noted that Silver found other ways to do favors for Taub once the pot of money he’d used to fund the doctor’s research was eliminated through state legislation.

Robert Taub, who said he steered numerous clients with cancer caused by asbestos to Silver’s law firm, enabling the legislator to pocket $3 million in referral fees. Don’t let it stand.” Defense lawyer Steven Molo insisted that Silver had never engaged in the sort of “quid pro quo” that’s legally required to sustain a conviction for “honest services fraud.” Molo also accused prosecutors of viewing Silver through a “dirty window,” adding that they “have failed to demonstrate that any harm has occurred.”

Meanwhile, testimony and evidence revealed, Silver caused $500,000 in taxpayer funds to go to Taub’s research projects and helped his son and daughter get a job and an internship. It follows a significant recent loss in another, insider trading, when the Supreme Court in October declined to review a ruling that made it harder to prove such crimes. Silver maintained a viselike grip on power, withstanding a rare challenge from a well-intentioned but unsupported Democratic colleague, and brushing off all criticism of his performance. That decision resulted in his abandonment of a high-profile insider-trading case, that of former SAC Capital Advisors LP portfolio manager Michael Steinberg and six analysts.

There were too many complications.” The family’s 18-year-old daughter discovered the horror after returning home from a hunting trip at about 11 a.m., the Jefferson Parish sheriff’s office said in a statement. Silver was faulted for how he handled two sexual harassment allegations; in 2013, a state ethics report criticized him for covering up accusations of sexual harassment against Assemblyman Vito J. The two were among a group dubbed the “three men in a room” in Albany, a nod to the longstanding practice of legislative leaders and the governor negotiating key bills behind closed doors.

Bharara’s prosecutors used the case to expose the extreme consolidation of the speaker’s political power and his ability to exploit New York’s system of a part-time Legislature to line his pockets. Silver conducted dual plots: In one, he directed $500,000 in state grants to the research of an oncologist, Robert Taub, in exchange for patients referrals that earned Mr. Silver’s trial, the government presented evidence that prosecutors said showed he had orchestrated two schemes through which he obtained nearly $4 million in illegal payments in return for taking official actions that benefited a prominent cancer researcher, Dr.

It was by Sheldon Silver for Sheldon Silver.” The speaker used his office to “dispense benefits to people who were paying him in quid pro quo relationship,” Mr.

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