Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the Democrat-controlled Assembly in New York, was arrested Thursday on corruption charges.
The 70-year-old politician was accused of taking bribes and kickbacks and masking them as legitimate income.
Sheldon Silver was scheduled to appear in court later on Thursday on the charges and his attorney, Joel Cohen, seems pretty confident that all will go well for his client.
He called the charges “meritless” and said that Sheldon Silver “looks forward to responding to them – in court – and ultimately his full exoneration.”
However, to many Sheldon Silver’s arrest isn’t that big of a surprise.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in October that investigations into Albany’s “pay-to-play” politics are continuing. The burden of the investigation into lawmaker’s incomes outside of their state salaries formerly belonged to New York’s Moreland anti-corruption commission.
Governor Cuomo closed the comission in April, but when it was ongoing, Sheldon Silver took legal action to make sure that his income was not investigated.
What he was hiding appears to be immense wealth garnered by dishonest means.
But, Sheldon Silver also practiced famously thrifty spending habits over his career and worked the system in order to sqeeze a little more money from taxpayers. After all, he was getting up there and he reportedly wanted to retire with between $1.78 million and $2.32 million in his retirement and deferred compensation plans.
Sheldon Silver still lived in the Lower East Side neighborhood that her grew up in. When he and his wife Rosa moved in years ago, they most likely paid around $10,000 for their apartment. It’s value would be more like $500,000 today.
He also insisted on driving his own car around the city and would settle for cheap haircuts at the local barber.
“You don’t see him with an entourage,” former Assemblywoman Joan Christensen said of Sheldon Silver. “He’s a very unpretentious guy.”
Unpretentious and thrifty, yes. But he was also pretty crafty at working the system.
Sheldon Silver would often stay in cheap hotels in order to maximize the amount of his per diem he could pocket when traveling for work. He would also make his flights to where they would detour to Washington, DC and Philadelphia when flying regularly between New York City and Albany in order to rack up frequent flier miles on the taxpayers’ dime.
That along with allegations that his annual salary of around $750,000 for legal work that he failed to disclose, mostly with the trial firm of Weitz & Luxenberg, is why Sheldon Silver is having to answer these corruption charges.
What do you think about Sheldon Silver being charged with corruption?