Federal prosecutors rested their case in the corruption trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The defense will not call any witnesses, meaning Silver will not take the stand, paving the way for closing arguments early next week. Zack Fink filed the following report.
Testifying for a second straight day was Michael Whyland, a former Spokesman for Sheldon Silver who now works for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Whyland testified that Silver spoke little about the sources of his outside income, which has become the focal point of the trial.
The jury was played a May 2008 radio interview in which Silver was asked about his outside income and how much he discloses.
"It's not a matter of disclosure. I disclose in the same way that everyone else does. No difference. It's a manufactured thing," Silver said in the interview. "Now, as an attorney, you can't disclose your clients. You are prohibited from that."
At the core of the government's case against Silver is that the former Speaker referred asbestos patients to the law firm where he served as "Of Counsel," Weitz and Luxenberg, and received fees in exchange. Prosecutors say Silver hid information about his connection to asbestos work, including those fees.
However, in the same interview from seven-and-a-half years ago, Silver acknowledged doing asbestos work.
"Whether it's an auto accident or an asbestos case. I don't know how much I'm allowed to say," Silver said.
Also testifying Wednesday was Jordan Levy, who helped Silver invest money in business opportunities not available to the public, including an Australian satellite company.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about Silver, who he called a "man of integrity" when Silver was first charged earlier this year.
"Well, he, like every American, is innocent until proven guilty," de Blasio said. "I am obviously very troubled by the things I've heard, and they are very different from everything I have heard and seen previously and what I have experienced. When I spoke, I spoke about my relationship over many, many years with him and the way he comported himself in that relationship."
There is no court Thursday or Friday, which means the jury will return Monday for closing arguments. After that, they will receive explicit instructions from the judge, and will likely head into deliberations before the Thanksgiving break.