New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, one of the state's most powerful politicians for more than two decades, is charged with fraud after a lengthy corruption investigation. Linda So reports.
A mob of photographers surrounds the car carrying New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Silver appeared in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday after surrendering to authorities. The 70-year-old Democrat, who is one of the state's most powerful politicians, is charged with fraud and other criminal counts after a lengthy corruption probe. SOUNDBITE: U.S. ATTORNEY PREET BHARARA, SAYING: "Over his decades in office, Speaker Silver has amassed titanic political power, but as alleged, during that same time Silver also amassed a tremendous personal fortune through the abuse of that political power." Silver who has served as the highest-ranking assemblyman since 1994, is accused of trying to conceal corrupt sources of outside income. He's also accused of using the power of his office to obtain millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. The criminal complaint alleges Silver received about $4 million from two law firms since 2002. SOUNDBITE: U.S. ATTORNEY PREET BHARARA, SAYING: "In the case of the real estate kickbacks, Sheldon Silver develops a relationship with real estate developers, some of whom he knows because they lobby him and is in a position to exercise tax and abatement laws." If convicted of a felony, Silver would lose his elected seat. Until that happens, he is under no obligation to resign. An attorney for Silver says it's unfortunate prosecutors chose to purse the criminal case and they intend to vigorously contest the charges.