The judge who presided over ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s trial last year today released a ream of government documents that she declined to admit as evidence—and the papers claim Mr. Silver had affairs with a pair of women and used his immense power in Albany to boost their careers.
The heavily redacted briefs, submitted by corruption-busting U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, allege that the FBI discovered phone records and recordings of Mr. Silver conversing with his extramarital lady friends on a special cell phone he obtained just for that purpose. The feds identified one woman as a lobbyist, and describe the other as a woman Mr. Silver had a “long-running” relationship with, and whom he helped get a job with a state entity “over which he exercised a particularly high level of control.”
The documents allude to cache of taped phone discussions investigators found during their probe of the now-convicted speaker, which included a whispered chat between Mr. Silver and the first mistress that apparently was recorded by accident. Mr. Bharara’s office describes the two talking about a reporter digging into politicians and their illicit liaisons, and Mr. Silver warning his lover that the situation was “not safe” even though “I don’t think he caught us.”
The pair also allegedly talked about a matter important to the woman’s lobbying clients, which the then-speaker said was “a difficult issue with the [Assembly] conference.”
The prosecutor also claimed to have evidence that the woman “lobbied the defendant on a regular basis on behalf of clients who had business before the state.”
The documents also describe how Mr. Silver got the second woman a job with an entity which both houses of the State Legislature vote to place members on, but “given the size and composition of the Assembly versus the Senate” is effectively under the control of the former. The description would seem to match the set-up the Board of Regents, which controls education policy in New York State.
Sources tell the Observer that rumor in Albany long linked Mr. Silver romantically with a former assemblywoman.
The government asserted that the mistress was the only person Mr. Silver or his staff had ever recommended for a job with the entity, and that his office followed up to inquire about its possibly hiring her.
Mr. Bharara unsuccessfully argued the evidence of Mr. Silver’s dalliances was “relevant not only to the defendant’s moral character, but to the use of his official position for private benefit.” Ultimately, Judge Valerie Caproni only allowed the government to submit evidence that Mr. Silver had directed state money to a cancer center that referred patients to his law firm, and improperly encouraged a developer with business before the state to hire another counsel that paid him referral fees.
The Lower Manhattan pol, once one of the three most powerful men in the state, is due for sentencing next month. The special election to fill his seat will take place on April 19.