November trial date set for indicted ex-NY Assembly speaker

AP News
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Posted: Apr 28, 2015 11:38 AM
November trial date set for indicted ex-NY Assembly speaker

NEW YORK (AP) — A November trial date was set Tuesday for the corruption case against former New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who after pleading not guilty insisted that he will vindicated.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni considered scheduling the trial for the summer after prosecutors said they would be ready by July, but she set the Nov. 2 date after defense lawyers said they needed more time to prepare.

Silver, 71, a Democrat who is free on bail after his January arrest on charges he exploited his power in Albany to take $4 million in kickbacks, paused before cameras outside a Manhattan courthouse to say he welcomed a trial.

"I'm glad a trial date is set," he said. "I'm confident that at the end of the process I will be totally vindicated."

Inside court, defense attorney Steven Molo told Caproni that Silver pleads not guilty to all charges in a rewritten indictment returned last week.

The latest version of the indictment added accusations that he did "official" favors for an investor who gave him access to high-yield investment opportunities.

Asked outside court how he responds to the new charge, Silver answered: "Same way."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Cohen told Caproni that she could not promise there would not be additional charges.

"I do not rule out that we will discover something as we continue our investigation," she said.

Silver stepped down from his speaker post after his arrest, but he continues to hold his Assembly seat. First elected in 1976, he represents a district on Manhattan's Lower East Side, where he was born and raised.

The charges were announced in January with a news conference in which U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara trumpeted the arrest as the latest example of Albany's "cauldron of corruption."

He followed it up a day later with a speech in which he blasted the state's system of government, saying power was "unduly concentrated in the hands of just a few men" — the governor, the Assembly speaker and the Senate president.

After Silver's lawyers complained to the judge that Bharara was contaminating the grand jury and potential trial jurors with his comments, Caproni criticized the prosecutor, saying he went too far.

"In this case, the U.S. Attorney, while castigating politicians in Albany for playing fast and loose with the ethical rules that govern their conduct, strayed so close to the edge of the rules governing his own conduct that defendant Sheldon Silver has a non-frivolous argument that he fell over the edge to the defendant's prejudice," the judge wrote.