U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara fired back Thursday at former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, denying that his sharp criticism of Silver’s alleged kickback scheme deprived the lawmaker of his rights.
In a court filing, Bharara’s office took issue with Silver’s legal team’s characterization of his remarks in the days after Silver’s Jan. 22 arrest, arguing that the prosecutor emphasized that Silver is presumed innocent.
Silver’s attorneys made a motion last month to dismiss the three-count federal indictment, arguing that Bharara was trying to “convict in the media” and had deprived the lawmaker of due justice. Silver’s team criticized Bharara for a number of his statements at a press conference the day of Silver’s arrest and a speech the next day, as well as blaming him for leaks to the media prior to Silver being criminally charged and criticizing his office’s use of Twitter to promote Bharara’s quotes.
In the filing Wednesday, Bharara’s office noted that 17 members of the state Legislature have been convicted of “serious crimes” since 2007. Silver’s attorneys raised issue with Bharara’s comments that New York had become the “show me the money state.”
“The statements made by the U.S. Attorney that are challenged here are fully compatible with the proper and fair administration of justice and did not violate the defendant’s rights in any way,” according to Bharara’s filing.
Silver has until March 13 to reply to the prosecutor’s filing. He’s next due in court May 7 for a status conference with Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan.
(Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP)