NEW YORK CITY — Sheldon Silver had extramarital affairs with two women while he was speaker of the state Assembly, one of whom was a lobbyist for clients with business before the state and the other he helped land a state job, according to court documents unsealed Friday.
Silver, 72, a once-beloved Lower Manhattan assemblyman and one of the most powerful men in the state, was convicted by a federal jury in November on charges of money laundering and extortion related to two bribery schemes where he earned millions in kickbacks by trading political favors for money.
Manhattan Federal Prosecutors' Motion on Sheldon Silver's Affairs
During a hushed conversation with the lobbyist secretly recorded by investigators, one of the women he was involved with whispered to Silver that she'd been trying to meet with him because a reporter had been asking about legislators having affairs.
"I don't think he caught us," Silver told her before adding that it was "not safe" for them to be seen in public together.
The woman then went on to complain to Silver that his staff wasn't helping her client who had business before the Assembly.
In the other affair, Silver used a second cellphone to talk specifically to the woman, who he helped secure a government job.
Silver, who faces 100 years behind bars during his May 3 sentencing, hoped to argue that he should get a lighter sentence because of his high moral character.
To counter that claim, prosecutors argued that they should be able to unseal evidence of his affairs.
The federal judge overseeing the case, Judge Valerie Caproni, ruled Thursday that because she would consider the sealed evidence as part of Silver's sentencing, the public had a right to know the information.
Silver's attorneys argued that his affairs don't have any bearing on whether he abused his powerful position.
"Whether Mr. Silver engaged in extramarital affairs does not make it more or less likely, for instance, that he used his official position to obtain referrals from real-estate developers," they said in written arguments.
Manuel Ortega, a lawyer for one of the women, admitted that the disgraced politician recommended her for her state position, but denied there was a sexual relationship.
"There is absolutely no truth to the allegations of an affair," he said. "A Friendship has been turned into a sexual relationship with no evidence whatsoever."
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