Federal authorities are expected to arrest Sheldon Silver, the powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, on corruption charges on Thursday, people with knowledge of the matter said. The case is likely to throw Albany into disarray at the beginning of a new session.
The investigation that led to the expected charges against Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who has served as speaker for more than two decades, began after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March abruptly shut down an anticorruption commission he had created in 2013.
Details of the specific charges to be brought against Mr. Silver were unclear on Wednesday night, but one of the people with knowledge of the matter said they stemmed from payments that Mr. Silver received from a small law firm that specializes in seeking reductions of New York City real estate taxes. The total amount of the payments was unclear, but another person has said they were substantial and were made over several years.
Mr. Silver failed to list the payments from the firm, Goldberg & Iryami, on his annual financial disclosure filings with the state, as required.
We've definitely seen this coming. US Attorney Preet Bharara has been sending not-so-subtle- messagesfor months now that he wasn't playing around. The revelation that Silver had maintained a private law practice for years that no one knew about was the first really big red flag that he was likely in serious trouble. When we learned that he had failed to disclose the income he made from those clients, his fate seemed all but sealed.
And sealed it appears to be. Silver has escaped serious consequences for incredibly shady behavior for decades, despite being investigated time and time again. I don't see how he skates this time. It's just too black and white and Preet Bharara has shown too many times that he's perfectly capable of putting corrupt pols in jail.
Which raises a very delicious possibility. Silver is old. He's rich. And he's been at the very nexus of Albany corruption for years. Silver knows where all the bodies are buried, so to speak. And it definitely looks like Bharara has the goods on him for real this time. Does Silver roll? Does he save his ass whilst doing an enormous public service to the State of New York and all of us who have suffered such corruption for so long?
I think we're about to find out.
Anyway, this is easily the biggest development in the fight against corruption in Albany in many, many years.
Stay tuned. We'll be all over this one here at TAP.
Originally posted at The Albany Project.
(image via Gove Cuomo's flickr)