The federal lawman best known for busting terrorists and Wall Street criminals has a new target: State politicians. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara filed a complaint today against New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, charging him with partaking in secretive, corrupt practices.
The complaint accuses the influential and well-connected Silver of extortion, mail fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracy, and detailing schemes the politician allegedly used to enhance his own personal wealth.
Writes the New York Observer:
Mr. Silver, an attorney by trade, collected more than $6 million in outside income from two private law firms since 2002. Approximately $700,000 came in “undisclosed bribes and kickbacks” from a scheme in which Mr. Silver used his influence as speaker to induce real estate developers with “business for the state” to use a real estate law firm run by an attorney who previously worked as Mr. Silver’s counsel in the Assembly, and which paid Mr. Silver for the referrals.
Another $5.3 million came from the firm Weitz and Luxenberg. $1.4 million of it was in the form of $120,000 annual salary “which Silver received based on his official position rather than any work he was expected to perform.” Another $3.9 million came in attorney referral fees, of which more than $3 million were obtained “through a corrupt scheme” in which Mr. Silver obtained referrals of asbestos cases from a doctor by using his Assembly perch to secretly direct $500,000 in state funds to that doctor’s research.
Bharara–a member of Fast Company‘s Most Creative People 1000 community–has amassed a reputation for aggressively going after corruption within the financial industry, and, more recently, trying to clean up the darkest, most lawless corners of the web. He famously indicted Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht for running an online black market for drugs, as well as money-laundering. Bharara, who Fast Company previously described as “the most dangerous man in bitcoin,” has since taken aim at reeling in some of the legally questionable excesses of the unregulated crypto currency. One year ago, Bharara’s office charged BitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem with laundering over $1 million in bitcoins via Silk Road.