It has been a difficult several weeks for former Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, once one of the most powerful men in New York.
Closing arguments concluded in Silver's multi-week corruption trial that saw its beginnings with the Speaker's arrest in January amidst allegations that he traded favors to benefit two real estate developers and a Columbia University researcher. Latest news is that at least one juror has requested to be excused from the case.
Seven Counts Against Silver
Silver faces seven counts. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew D. Goldstein explained each count before a court that featured the very man who has been the force of recent anti-corruption litigation in New York, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
The prosecution outlined an arrangement that Silver had with Columbia University researcher, Dr. Robert M. Taub and highlighted Taub's statements which they claimed indicated that the two illicitly exchanged referrals for money.
Silver's lawyers have attempted to defend by saying that Silver did not abuse his positions in the Assembly, and that with Silver's other jobs, it was all but impossible for him not to have conflicts that would lead to the appearance of impropriety. They staunchly denied that Silver "sold" his office. Goldstein rebuked that argument and accused Silver of "taint[ing] fellow legislators" with his own corruption.
Judge Caproni was forced to admonish the jury to "respectfully exchange views" when a juror desperately pleaded with her to let him or her be excused. The same juror claimed that he felt pressured and was mocked for his viewpoints.
A verdict is expected soon.