Sheldon Silver, stepping down, stepping aside
Sheldon Silver, Photo: Azi Paybarah

A federal grand jury Thursday morning to indict Assemblyman Sheldon Silver on the fraud and extortion charges that initially got him ousted from the chambers speakership, The New York Times reports.

Silver, a Lower East Side Democrat who had served as the powerful speaker for two decades, remains a member of the Assembly. The indictment document claims that Silver used his office to scheme nearly $4 million in payments from two law firms over the last 15 years:

He steered real estate developers to a small law firm that paid him kickbacks disguised as “referral fees.” It also claims he received referral fees for roping in mesothelioma patients to Weitz & Luxenberg, a law firm where Mr. Silver was listed as “of counsel,” entitled to receive 33 percent of the firm’s share of any recovery on behalf of those clients.

The document provides account numbers for accounts with HSBC Bank, Synchrony Bank, Bank of New York Mellon, two Fidelity Investment accounts and a Morgan Stanley Smith Barney account.

The nature of the indictment suggests there is little prospect of plea discussions at this stage in the case and moves the matter toward a possible trial.

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