NEW YORK -- A federal grand jury voted Thursday morning to indict former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on federal corruption charges, including mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion under the color of official right.
The indictment accuses Silver of a “secret and corrupt scheme to deprive the citizens of the State of his honest services as a legislator” and of using his power and influence as speaker to obtain “millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income.”
The grand jury’s decision came barely a month after Silver was arrested on a five-count complaint that accused him of receiving nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks disguised as private sector legal work that he never actually performed.
Silver’s lawyers, Joel Cohen and Stephen Molo, told the Associated Press in a statement Thursday that they will "fight for his total vindication." They added their client is confident of his chances in court.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York -- where the charges were filed -- declined to comment on the case Thursday. Silver is expected to be formally arraigned this week.
A Democrat representing Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Silver has said he plans to remain a member of the state Assembly. He resigned his position as speaker earlier this month after holding the post for over 20 years. Rep. Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) has filled the position.
Silver is the latest name in a growing list of New York politicians charged with corruption. Earlier this month, former state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) was found guilty in a bribery scheme to obtain the Republican nomination in the 2013 New York City mayoral election.