The signs that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was in US Attorney Preet Bharara's crosshairs have been adding up for quite some time now and now the Times says he just might have the goods for real this time. According to the ever popular sources known as "people with knowledge of the matter," the feds are investigating exactly what a certain small law firm is paying Silver all that money he keeps failing to disclose for.
It seems a tiny firm that specializes in something called tax certiorari, which involves getting property tax payments reduced by challenging the assessments has been paying Silver, a personal injury lawyer with no known experience in that field of practice, hefty sums for at least a decade. If that sounds fishy to you, that's because it's totally fishy.
In recent years, Mr. Goldberg and his firm have represented hundreds of properties across New York City, from modest storefronts on Staten Island to office buildings in Midtown Manhattan, according to court filings and records from the city's Tax Commission. He has also represented large cooperative developments on the Lower East Side, the neighborhood that makes up the heart of Mr. Silver's political base.
The sizable number of properties on the Lower East Side for which Mr. Goldberg has sought real estate tax reductions include Mr. Silver's own co-op, the Hillman Housing Corporation, a development of brick apartment buildings on Grand Street, tax records show, as well as the commercial building across the street that is listed in state records as the address for Mr. Silver's campaign committee, Friends of Silver. Mr. Goldberg and his firm have also represented a related development along Grand Street and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, the East River Housing Corporation, the records show, which like Hillman Housing is managed by a close Silver associate, Harold Jacob.
Speculation about just how much money makes from his side gig has long been an Albany parlor game. It was just last year that we finally began to get a glimpse at the finances of arguably one of, if not the, most powerful men in New York State. We just recently learned that Silver had apparently failed to disclose all of that outside income right before we learned that he did indeed have his own private law practice as well. Keep in mind that this is a man who has run one chamber of our state's legislature for 20 years and we never knew.
There's a reason that Sheldon Silver and other legislators (the ones with actual power) are fighting so hard (with your money) to keep information about who they actually work for hidden.
Shelly has been investigated for all manner of corrupt and sleazy stuff over the years and he has always managed to slide. But this feels different. Bharara is sitting on all those Moreland Commission files (thanks, Governor Cuomo!) and he's been sending pretty unsubtle messages for months that he plans to use them.
So now we know that the Speaker of the Assembly failed disclose outside income as required. We know that he also had a private law practice he kept secret for decades. And now we know that a tiny law firm in his district, one that specializes in insanely complex property tax law has been paying Silver, an ambulance chaser, large sums for over a decade.
Now the rather ambitious US Attorney in Manhattan knows all of this as well.
Shelly has evaded indictment for decades. That streak might be about to end.
It's a Holiday Miracle.
(image via Azi's Flickr)