Sil­ver's Re­trial Week 2: “In­censed” Developers Afraid to Say No to the Pow­er­ful Politician

The Jewish Voice - - NEW YORK - By Sarah Fin­klestein

As we en­ter the sec­ond week of the re­trial, which be­gan last Mon­day, April 30, of former-Assem­bly Speaker Shel­don Sil­ver, new tes­ti­monies bring new de­vel­op­ments in the cor­rup­tion case.

Most re­cently, two New York City real es­tate developers tes­ti­fied on Mon­day, May 7, that they were fu­ri­ous to find out how much Sil­ver was prof­it­ing off them, but too in­tim­i­dated by his po­si­tion to deny his re­quests.

Witkoff Group founder and CEO Steve Witkoff told jurors from the wit­ness stand that he was “in­censed” to learn that the tax lawyer he hired at Sil­ver's re­quest was split­ting fees with the cor­rupt politician.

In ref­er­ence to the fee ar­range­ment Sil­ver had with real es­tate tax lawyer Jay Arthur Gold­berg, Witkoff said, “It seemed un­seemly. Mr. Sil­ver was an elected of­fi­cial and I wasn't sure what the le­gal­ity or eth­i­cal is­sues were.”

An ex­ec­u­tive and real es­tate gi­ant Glen­wood Man­age­ment said that he, his fel­low ex­ec­u­tives and the com­pany's late owner Leonard Litwin were all en­raged over the unique deal Sil­ver had with Gold­berg.

Re­gard­ing Litwin's re­ac­tion, Glen­wood lawyer Richard Runes said, “He was up­set and an­gry. He said, ‘I did not agree to pay Shel­don Sil­ver any­thing.'”

Nei­ther Witkoff Group nor Glen­wood were mad enough or felt they were in the right po­si­tion to stop work­ing with Sil­ver's tax lawyer.

Runes tes­ti­fied to the jury, “Mr. Sil­ver was the speaker [of the Assem­bly] and he was ex­tremely pow­er­ful. [He was] not some­body you want to make not like you.”

Witkoff also ref­er­enced Sil­ver's pow­er­ful po­si­tion, which made him hire the tax lawyer in the first place, in ad­di­tion to the lawyer be­ing “in the mid­dle of pro­ceed­ings,” as rea­sons he didn't fire Gold­berg.

Witkoff said, “I didn't want to do any­thing that might alien­ate Mr. Sil­ver.” Witkoff said.

A to­tal of $4 mil­lion in all is what Sil­ver is ac­cused of us­ing the power of his po­si­tion as Assem­bly Speaker to earn. Ap­prox­i­mately $700,000 of the $4 mil­lion in kick­backs came from the spe­cial ar­range­ments Sil­ver had with the law firm Gold­berg & Iryami, which pro­vided Sil­ver with a por­tion of any earn­ings made off the real es­tate work he re­ferred them.

More damning tes­ti­mony was re­vealed last Thurs­day, May 3, when the head of OHEL Chil­dren's Home and Fam­ily Ser­vices David Mandel told the fed­eral jury that Sil­ver con­tacted him on two oc­ca­sions look­ing for a job for the son of Dr. Robert Taub, who as­sisted in re­fer­ring $3 mil­lion worth of Me­sothe­lioma cases for Sil­ver. The son was hired to work in vol­un­teer outreach for over $30,000 a year salary.

Ac­cord­ing to The Post, “Sil­ver first reached out in May 2012, two months af­ter the pow­er­ful pol di­rected $2 mil­lion in tax­payer money to OHEL for a sum­mer camp, Mandel said. Af­ter Sil­ver tried again a month later, Mandel told his staff to find a po­si­tion for Taub's son, Jonathan, emails showed. Sil­ver is on re­tri-

al in Man­hat­tan fed­eral court on kick­back charges.”

Last July, the orig­i­nal con­vic­tion of Sil­ver in 2015 was over­turned by an ap­peal. U.S. Dis­trict Judge Va­lerie Caproni is also charged with hear­ing Sil­ver's sec­ond trial, which is ex­pected to last any­where from four to six weeks.

Former-Assem­bly Speaker Shel­don Sil­ver is now be­ing re­tried on cor­rup­tion charges, af­ter his first con­vic­tion was turned over on ap­peal.

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