Tags: sheldon silver | new york | favors | funds

Feds: Ex-NY Assembly Speaker Silver Traded Favors for Access to Funds

Image: Feds: Ex-NY Assembly Speaker Silver Traded Favors for Access to Funds
Former Speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Friday, 24 Apr 2015 02:21 PM

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver traded official favors for free access to private, high- yield investment vehicle where he hid illegal kickbacks, federal prosecutors alleged in a revised indictment.

In a new charge, the government claims Silver gave about $280,000 obtained from real estate and asbestos litigation schemes to an unidentified investor for placement in the vehicle. In exchange, Silver took “certain official actions” on behalf of the person, who didn’t know the provenance of the money or charge Silver a fee, according to the filing.

A person familiar with the matter said the investor is Jordan Levy, a Buffalo-area partner in JoRon Management LLC, and the money was placed with a firm that loans money to lawyers.

Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, stepped down from his leadership role in the legislature after his Jan. 22 arrest on charges tied to the real estate and asbestos allegations. The case, filed by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, has taken on a very personal tone in recent weeks.

Bharara was admonished by a federal judge following criticism by Silver that his public comments were tainting the prosecution. The unusual exchange added to the bitterness of a legal conflict born of Bharara’s decision to take up Governor Andrew Cuomo’s now shuttered ethics probe of Albany legislators.

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Silver, 71, was one of the most powerful politicians in New York for more than two decades, with control over Assembly rule- making that gave him power to decide which bills would go to a vote. In the original indictment, he was charged with conspiracy, extortion and committing fraud while in office.

As part of the new allegations, prosecutors claim he sought to hide ill-gotten gains between 2006 and 2015, putting some in the name of a family member to avoid reporting requirements.

“This new filing is an attempt by the government to address defects in the indictment that we raised in our motion to dismiss,” Steven Molo, a lawyer for Silver, said in an e- mailed statement. “We are reviewing this new pleading and we will respond as before in court.”

The high-yield vehicle identified in the superseding indictment as “Investment Vehicle-1” was an investment in Counsel Financial, according to the person familiar, who requested anonymity because the matter isn’t public. Counsel Financial is a Williamsville-New York based firm that provides loans to law firms in exchange for a portion of client contingency fees.

Terrence M. Connors, a lawyer for Counsel Financial, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

“Jordan Levy and his company, JoRon, fully cooperated with the U.S. attorney’s office over the period of nearly a year now,” said Dennis Vacco, a lawyer for Levy and former New York attorney general. “Levy met with federal prosecutors several times and turned over all the documents they requested.”

Levy did speak with Silver, in his role as chairman of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. and as an advocate for economic development in Buffalo “about community-based initiatives and nothing more,” Vacco said.

James Margolin, a spokesman for Bharara, declined to comment on Levy or the identity of the investor who placed Silver’s money.

In addition to the new count in Silver’s indictment, filed Thursday in Manhattan federal court, the new filing splits previously charged extortion and fraud counts into six separate counts.

The case is U.S. v. Silver, 15-cr-00093, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).


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Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver traded official favors for free access to private, high- yield investment vehicle where he hid illegal kickbacks, federal prosecutors alleged in a revised indictment.
sheldon silver, new york, favors, funds
565
2015-21-24
Friday, 24 Apr 2015 02:21 PM
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