ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) – A prominent New York politician is reportedly under investigation by federal authorities, not for his long-secret earnings from a major asbestos plaintiffs firm but for payments made to him from a small tax firm.
Prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are probing payments made to state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver by the law firm Goldberg & Iryami, according to a Monday report in the New York Times.
Silver has been on the payroll at the asbestos firm Weitz and Luxenberg, previously drawing attention for refusing to disclose his earnings from or the work he provides for it.
However, recent disclosures show that he made between $650,000 and $750,000 in 2013 – up from between $350,000 and $450,000 the year before, according to the Daily News.
The firm made a push this year to bring the element of punitive damages back to the New York City Asbestos Litigation docket. Punitive damages had been deferred since 1996, but NYCAL Judge Sherry Heitler ruled in April that plaintiffs should be able to pursue them.
In doing so, she made NYCAL the No. 1 Judicial Hellhole in the country, as ranked by the American Tort Reform Association.
In the report, released earlier this month, ATRA said Silver will prevent tort reform efforts in the state Legislature because he is on the payroll of the Weitz firm. It also noted that in 2008, Silver appointed Arthur Luxenberg to a committee that reviews candidates for the state Supreme Court and its appellate division and makes recommendations to the governor.
However, it is now his relationship with Goldberg & Iryami that is drawing his attention. The firm challenges real estate tax assessments, the New York Times report says.
The report cites anonymous sources who say an investigation is ongoing.
From Legal Newsline: Reach editor John O’Brien at email@example.com.