ALBANY — In a move bound to rock the state Capitol, longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver reportedly will be arrested Thursday on corruption charges.
The arrest of Silver, who has been one of most powerful men in Albany for more than two decades, was reported overnight by The New York Times.
While it’s unclear exactly what charges Silver could be facing, The Times reported they are linked to payments the powerful Manhattan Democrat received from New York City law Goldberg & Iryami that he did not disclose publicly as required by law.
A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara had no comment.
Silver spokesman Michael Whyland did not return calls for comment.
Silver, 70, told reporters on Jan. 7 that he had not personally heard from investigators. He was less specific when asked whether his lawyer had, saying “they have not been directed to do anything.”
He has repeatedly refused to discuss the probe.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate at this time under the circumstances to be commenting on these matters,” he said two weeks ago.
The arrest of Silver, who next year would become the longest-serving speaker in Assembly history, comes as Bharara’s office has taken up the unfinished investigations of the Moreland anti-corruption commission that Gov. Cuomo created in 2013 but abruptly ended last year when the Legislature agreed to ethics reforms.
It would also upend Albany just as the new legislative session is beginning. Silver, along with Cuomo and Senate Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos, are known as the “three men in the room” who negotiate most everything that gets done in Albany.
An arrest would create a power vacuum in the Assembly, where there is no clear heir apparent. Assemblymen Keith Wright (D-Manhattan), Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) and Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn) are potential successors.
Two members said that if Silver is arrested, it will likely be difficult for him to hold on to his post.
“If he’s arrested, you’ll likely hear members calling for him to give up his speakership,” an Assembly Democrat told The News.
The lawmaker noted that there has been mass turnover in the Assembly in recent years, meaning “there’s a lot of new members who are not loyal to Shelly.”
Silver was in Albany on Wednesday to hear Cuomo deliver his combined State of the State/budget address. It’s unclear whether he knew the reported arrest was pending.
For years Silver’s outside income has been the subject of discussion and controversy. Last year he reported making up to $750,000 for legal work, mostly with the trial firm of Weitz & Luxenberg.
Silver has refused to detail what he’s done to earn the pay.
First elected to the Assembly in 1976, Silver became speaker in February 1994 after the death of Saul Weprin. He has served as speaker with five governors and a number of Senate majority leaders, both Republican and Democrat.
Silver, an observant Orthodox Jew, was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He lives with his wife, Rosa, near the apartment where he grew up. He has four children.
His wife and one of Silver’s sons were in the Assembly chamber Jan. 7 when Silver was elected to another term as speaker .
Several Assembly Republicans urged a vote against Silver on that day, including Steve Katz (R-Putnam County), who publicly argued that “New Yorkers deserve a speaker who isn’t under federal investigation.”
Silver has also been dealing with a lawsuit from two Assembly staffers who charge that the speaker and the Assembly did not protect them from being sexually harassed by now former Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
With Dareh Gregorian