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