MANHATTAN FEDERAL COURT — A veteran Albany lobbyist, and longtime friend of Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, testified Friday that he was "surprised and concerned" about the former speaker's financial connection to his client, real estate firm Glenwood Management.
Brian Meara, a top lobbyist, said Silver told him in a conversation several years ago that he had some sort of fee arrangement related to Glenwood Management, one of the state's largest political contributors.
"I didn't want to be involved," Meara testified at Silver's corruption trial in Manhattan federal court. "I thought it was a dangerous topic for me to be talking about."
Prosecutors contend that Silver was receiving fees from two real estate law firms for referring them tax work from Glenwood Management. In exchange, Silver used his political sway to benefit Glenwood with legislative favors, prosecutors said.
While Meara testified that he thought any connection to the big developer would look bad for Silver, a democrat who’s politically aligned with pro-tenant issues — there weren't any specific legislative acts Meara pointed to that seemed anti-tenant. Meara was testifying under a non-prosecution agreement.
Silver, who’s represented Lower Manhattan for more than 40 years, has pleaded not guilty to fraud, extortion and money laundering.
His lawyers argue that nothing Silver has done is illegal.
Silver has repeatedly said he will be vindicated.
The trial moves into its third week Monday.