Former New York Assembly speaker is convicted in retrial based on law firm referral fees
Sheldon Silver/New York State Assembly
Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted on federal corruption charges in his retrial Friday in connection with schemes that involved referral fees from law firms.
He was convicted on the same charges in 2015. A federal appeals court vacated the conviction last year, however, because jury instructions didn’t reflect a later U.S. Supreme Court decision narrowing the meaning of official acts that can support a federal bribery conviction. The June 2016 Supreme Court decision said had said an official can’t be convicted for taking bribes unless he or she takes action or makes a decision on a matter involving a formal exercise of government power.
In one scheme, prosecutors said, Silver arranged for $500,000 in grants to a cancer doctor who released names of mesothelioma patients to the Weitz & Luxenberg law firm. The firm then paid Silver more than $3 million in referral fees, prosecutors said. Silver was of counsel at the law firm, though he did little legal work.
In the other scheme, prosecutors said, Silver arranged for two developers to send business to the tax law firm Goldberg & Iryami, which gave him $700,000 in referral fees. Silver had supported legislation to benefit the developers, according to prosecutors.