By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sheldon Silver, one of New York state's most powerful politicians before his December conviction in a bribery case, had extramarital affairs with a lobbyist and a woman he helped get a state job while in office, according to documents unsealed on Friday.
Silver, a Democrat who was speaker of the New York State Assembly, and both women tried to stop the release of the documents. But a federal judge in Manhattan on Thursday ordered the disclosure, saying it was of public interest.
The documents showed that in October, prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni to allow them to use evidence at trial about Silver's relationships, saying they were relevant to "the use of his official office for private benefit."
In a redacted motion, prosecutors said one of the women was a lobbyist often hired to lobby Silver on clients' behalf.
During a recorded conversation, Silver and the woman discussed how a reporter was calling around about if some legislators were having affairs, prosecutors said.
Silver responded: "I don't think he caught us."
The second woman, prosecutors said, had a "long-running extramarital relationship" with Silver, who used his position to recommend her for a state job.
Silver's lawyers, Steven Molo and Joel Cohen, in a statement called the claims "unproven and salacious allegations that have no place in this case or public discussion."
The evidence of the alleged affairs was never introduced at the trial in which Silver, 72, was convicted on charges including fraud and extortion for abusing his office to collect as much as $4 million in illegal bribes and kickbacks.
The conviction of Silver, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1976 and became its speaker in 1994, was followed later in December by New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was convicted in a separate corruption case.
The documents' release came at the request of The New York Times and WNBC-TV. Both women fought against their release, and the lobbyist hired prominent lawyer Abbe Lowell for the challenge.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Tom Brown)