Federal prosecutors on Thursday moved to the second part of their two-pronged legal attack against former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Zack Fink filed the following report.
Federal prosecutors are trying to make their case that former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was engaged in two separate illegal schemes.
The first involved Silver steering public money to cancer research in exchange for patients he could then refer to a private law firm for fees. The government on Thursday turned its attention to the second part of its case, claiming that Silver referred a politically connected real estate company with buisness before the state to a small law firm, also in exchange for referral fees.
Testifying for the government was Dara Iryami, one-half of the tax specialist law firm Goldberg and Iryami. Silver referred Glenwood Managment, a real estate company that spends roughly $800,000 per year on Albany lobbying to Goldberg and Iryami, for tax work. In exchange, Silver took in hundreds of thousands of dollars in referral fees.
The prosecution laid out the deatils of the scheme, and defense attorneys once again didn't dispute any of the details. Instead, they argued that all fees were 100 percent legal and part of doing business, which Silver was allowed to do since legislators are permitted to earn outside income.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was once again in the courtroom Thursday. He wrote an scathing letter to the judge this week, claiming that the defense has repeatedly tried to prejudice the jury by suggested heavy-handed tactics on the part of prosecutors. That includes visiting key witnesses at odd hours when the story first became public earlier this year, and showing up at another witness's rural maine home unannounced. Bharra maintains that those tactics are not only legal, but routine.
Prosecutors could rest their case as early as Tuesday, and defense attorneys revealed for the first time that they may not call any witnesses at all. That means the case could go to the jury by mid-week next week, a much shorter time frame than originally anticipated.