N.Y. Assembly speaker arrested on fraud charges

Sheldon Silver has served in the New York State legislature for more than 35 years.

Mark Lennihan/AP
New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is transported by federal agents to federal court, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015 in New York. Silver, who has been one of the most powerful men in Albany for more than two decades, was arrested Thursday on public corruption charges.

New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, one of the state's most powerful Democrats for more than two decades, was charged on Thursday with fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and other criminal counts after a lengthy corruption investigation, federal authorities said.

Silver, 70, a lawyer whose tenure as speaker since 1994 has outlasted governors, mayors and many other politicians, has been under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the FBI. Silver has served in the Assembly since 1977.

In what may be the first case to spill out of a state investigation into Albany corruption that was abruptly halted by Governor Andrew Cuomo but resurrected by federal authorities, Silver was accused of trying to conceal "corrupt sources" of outside income. He was also accused of using the power of his office to obtain millions in bribes and kickbacks.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on each of the charges, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

Silver was accused of getting more than $6 million in unjustified income from two law firms since 2002, according to the criminal complaint.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.