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N.Y. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to vacate his post

By Danielle Haynes
N.Y. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to vacate his post
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will vacate his position by Monday after federal corruption charges. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI. | License Photo

ALBANY, N.Y., Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the New York State Assembly, will vacate his post one week after he was arrested on federal corruption charges.

Silver was told to either vacate the post he's held since 1994 or he would be ousted.

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Joseph D. Morelle, a Democrat out of the Rochester, N.Y., area, will replace him as interim speaker.

"On Monday there will be vacancy in the office of speaker," Morelle said.

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Morelle is likely to be joined by four other candidates officially vying for Silver's vacated position, including Joseph R. Lentol of Brooklyn, Catherine Nolan of Queens, Keith L.T. Wright of Harlem and Carl E. Heastie of the Bronx. Should Heastie win the permanent position as speaker, he would be the first African-American to do so.

Silver, 70, was accused in a five-count indictment of "using the power and influence of his official position to obtain for himself millions of dollars of bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income." It said he allegedly was involved in a scheme "to induce real estate developers with business before the state" to employ a real estate law firm with which he was involved that arranged payments to him for referrals to the firm, adding "There is probable cause to believe that Silver received approximately $4 million in payments characterized as attorney referral fees solely through the corrupt use of his official position."

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Prosecutors noted in the complaint that Silver did essentially no work to earn the money.

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He is charged with mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion. Prosecutors also seized $3.8 million of his personal funds Thursday.

Ed Adamczyk contributed to this report.

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