Last Thursday, federal prosecutors arrested Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) on corruption charges.  A five-count complaint filed in Manhattan alleges that Speaker Silver accepted millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes “masked as legitimate income.”

According to the complaint, he received over $3 million in a scheme that brought asbestos referrals to a law firm at which he was ‘Of Counsel’ through a doctor who then received $500,000 in state funds for research, as well as additional benefits.  He is also alleged to have used his position to steer real estate business to an unnamed law firm, for which he received $700,000 in “undisclosed bribes and kickbacks.” The complaint alleges that he did not perform any legal work for either firm.  The Speaker said that he expects to be vindicated.

It was reported this morning that Silver will retain his title as Speaker but abdicate power to a leadership panel of five Assembly Democrats for the near-term. That panel includes Majority Leader Joe Morelle (Rochester), Ways and Means Chair Herman Farrell (Manhattan), Carl Heastie (The Bronx), Education Chair Catherine Nolan (Queens) and Codes Chair Joe Lentol (Brooklyn).