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New York - Doctor: Feds Put Squeeze On In Ex-NY Assembly Speaker Case

Published on: November 5, 2015 11:59 PM
By: AP
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Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver exits the Manhattan U.S. District Courthouse in New York, November 3, 2015. REUTERSFormer New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver exits the Manhattan U.S. District Courthouse in New York, November 3, 2015. REUTERS

New York - A prominent Columbia University cancer researcher testified Thursday how federal agents spooked him by showing up at his apartment at 6 a.m. one day last summer and, with the physician still in his pajamas, demanding to know about his dealings with New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

“I was terrified and confused. ... I don’t know what thoughts I had beyond the panic,” Dr. Robert Taub told jurors at Silver’s bribery trial in federal court in Manhattan.

The testimony came under cross-examination by defense attorney Steven Molo, who sought to show that federal authorities used intimidation tactics to get Taub to cooperate and help implicate Silver in what prosecutors portray as a bribery scheme orchestrated by the once-powerful Democrat.

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The cancer researcher testified that he was so unnerved by the unannounced visit amid a brewing corruption scandal in Albany that he lied by telling the agents he had never referred asbestos cancer patients to Silver’s personal injury law firm so it could seek multimillion-dollar settlements from lawsuits.

Asked if he thought his lie would put an end to the matter, he responded, “It was irrational, but that’s what I hoped.”

Silver, 71, who was arrested in January, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he amassed $5 million in illicit income through extortion and bribery in the two decades he was speaker before resigning from the post. His lawyers claim overzealous prosecutors are attempting to criminalize how politics is practiced at the statehouse.

The 79-year-old Taub testified that following the encounter with federal agents in August 2014, he sought to contact Silver but the assemblyman refused to speak to him. Sensing he could be in “big trouble,” the doctor said he decided to contact the investigators and change his story.

Taub ended up telling prosecutors that at the urging of a mutual friend, he began sending patients to Silver in the early 2000s in hopes of getting his support for mesothelioma research. Prosecutors say Silver reciprocated by quietly channeling $500,000 in state grants to Taub’s research project.

When Taub sought more money, Silver told him, “I can’t do that anymore,” the doctor testified. However, Taub told a colleague in an email, “I will keep giving cases to Shelly because I may need him in the future — he is the most powerful man in New York State.”

Of his fundraising efforts, Taub wrote: “No enterprise (excluding patient care), ever, ever grew or succeeded as a result of pure righteousness. Usually success is propelled by greed, envy, or both.”

Taub agreed to testify in a deal that let him escape prosecution for false statements. In two days of testimony, he detailed how he and Silver traded favors, but denied it was bribery.

The trial is scheduled to resume Monday.



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Read Comments (9)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Nov 06, 2015 at 06:11 AM ShmutzVesh Says:

Hatzlacha Raba toShelly and his whole family.

2

 Nov 06, 2015 at 06:41 AM mewhoze Says:

so the dr agrees to testify after admitting he himself lied and the jurors are supposed to believe him?
he has immunity...he can say anything and get away with it.
what a crock!

3

 Nov 06, 2015 at 08:33 AM all in the interest of pt care! Says:

Between the lines he is saying all was done in the interest of patient care and all that. There is no mention of lining up a job fo rhis do nothing, lazy, rich son. Not so criminal but do we all have that opportunity?

4

 Nov 06, 2015 at 08:50 AM Chaim Eliezer Says:

The real scandal is his performance as one of the three people running New York State. It should not have taken an indictment to remove him.

5

 Nov 06, 2015 at 09:38 AM albroker Says:

I hope they put Silver away for longer than his accomplice Rapfogel who only gor 4 years, he deserves a decade.

6

 Nov 06, 2015 at 10:10 AM mewhoze Says:

#5, I look at all the death and terrorism going on around us and I then look into my heart and say to myself, people need to pray for each other. pray for peace, pray for safety, pray for forgiveness, pray that nothing bad befalls us.
I pray for all the people who are now facing courts, scandals, jailtime. I pray that they do genuine teshuva and come home to their families as soon as possible and that moshiach comes soon. being bitter hurts you more than the person you are angry at (your anger is obvious in your post)

7

 Nov 06, 2015 at 12:30 PM OYVY2 Says:

you sound so kumbaya. The way I look at it the terrorists are killing us, the "frum" people who steal, cheat, launder money, are pedophiles, molesters, burning down houses are killing our souls

8

 Nov 06, 2015 at 03:48 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
albroker Says:

I hope they put Silver away for longer than his accomplice Rapfogel who only gor 4 years, he deserves a decade.

When the feds etc will come after You, people will talk against you the same as you publicly wished for Mr. Silver. I'm sure you'll love it.

Eye for an Eye

9

 Nov 08, 2015 at 07:34 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
OYVY2 Says:

you sound so kumbaya. The way I look at it the terrorists are killing us, the "frum" people who steal, cheat, launder money, are pedophiles, molesters, burning down houses are killing our souls

It's your self hatred that's killing you. Do teshuva.

10

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