NY Speaker Sheldon Silver to Temporarily Cede Power as He Fights Charges - NBC New York
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NY Speaker Sheldon Silver to Temporarily Cede Power as He Fights Charges

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    In this Jan. 22, 2015 file photo, New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is transported by federal agents to federal court in New York. Even after his arrest on federal corruption charges, Silver remains one of the most powerful politicians in New York.(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

    The speaker of the New York state Assembly plans to temporarily cede power to a small group of top lawmakers as he fights federal corruption charges.

    A spokesman for Speaker Sheldon Silver said the Manhattan Democrat plans to brief Democratic members of the Assembly on his intentions Monday.

    "The Speaker is not stepping down," said spokesman Michael Whyland. "He is appointing a group of senior members to undertake various responsibilities such as budget negotiations to ensure a timely spending plan for the state. This will give him the flexibility he needs so that he can defend himself against these charges."

    Silver was taken into custody Thursday morning by the FBI. He faces five counts including conspiracy and bribery. He was released later in the day on $200,000 bail.

    He is accused of using his position as one of the state's most powerful politicians to obtain millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks masked as legitimate income.

    The criminal complaint says there is probable cause to believe that Silver obtained about $4 million in payments characterized as attorney referral fees through the corrupt use of his official position.

    Silver's attorney, Joel Cohen, calls the charges "meritless." Whyland said Silver is "confident that he will be found innocent."

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