New York City

Prosecutor strikes back at Sheldon Silver’s claims

March 6, 2015 By Larry Neumeister Associated Press
Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, center, arrives for his arraignment on charges in a $4 million bribery case on Feb. 24 in New York. Silver faces arraignment on bribery charges that spurred his resignation from his role as one of New York's foremost political powerbrokers. AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
Share this:

From his use of Twitter to a so-called “perp walk” that consisted of a car ride, a federal prosecutor Thursday defended his handling of the arrest of former ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara filed papers in Manhattan federal court saying a motion last week by Silver’s attorneys to toss the case was without merit.

The once-powerful Democrat was indicted two weeks ago on charges that he received $4 million in kickbacks from law firms for doing political favors since 2002, disguising the income as legitimate income.

The 71-year-old Silver has said he’ll be vindicated. He remains an assemblyman, continuing to represent the Lower Manhattan district he has served for nearly four decades. His lawyers argued last week that Bharara’s announcement of Silver’s arrest and subsequent remarks were so over-the-top that the grand jury may have been affected and the charges should be thrown out.

“He has offered his uncensored views about Mr. Silver’s guilt, his character and the severity of his crimes — always in inflammatory, over-the-top language that targets not just Mr. Silver but the entire New York state government,” lawyers for Silver said in court papers. Joel Cohen, one of Silver’s attorneys, said Thursday he’ll respond to Bharara’s filing with more court papers.

In a brief signed by four prosecutors, Bharara’s office said Silver’s claims had no basis in facts or the law and it defended the announcement of Silver’s Jan. 22 arrest and remarks Bharara made a day later in a law school speech when he joked repeatedly that power in New York state was “unduly concentrated in the hands of just a few men” — the governor, the Assembly speaker and the Senate president.

Bharara’s office attached the full office Twitter feed related to Silver’s arrest as an exhibit to its court filing, saying Silver’s lawyers omitted in their request to throw out the charges key information such as the fact that the Twitter feed referenced “charges” and was linked to a press release and a criminal complaint.

Bharara’s office said its press release and press conference statements made “abundantly clear that the charges were allegations.” It added: “Moreover, it is not unusual or inappropriate in any way for this office to use Twitter as a means of augmenting other, more traditional, means of providing information to the public.”

Prosecutors also said Silver’s arrest was handled “with great sensitivity — from the choice to allow the defendant to surrender, to the decision to drive the defendant to the courthouse as opposed to having federal agents walk the defendant across the plaza, to the use of an unmarked car to handle the transport.”


Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment