Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Indicted

Federal prosecutors say former Speaker Silver fraudulently channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars to a doctor in exchange for referring mesothelioma patients to the asbestos law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, which paid Silver millions in kickbacks for the referrals. Silver also failed to disclose the payments he received.

The huge profits that asbestos personal injury lawyers make from asbestos litigation and trust claims, combined with the lack of transparency in the system, can lead to extensive fraud. As Forbes columnist Daniel Fisher observes, the Silver case shows the "seamy side of asbestos litigation."

The federal indictment charges Silver with mail fraud, wire fraud and extortion.

Silver lost the speakership following his arrest in January, though he remains in the Assembly. Having served decades in the state legislature as the speaker, Silver was considered one of the strongest politicians in the state, and he has long been an opponent of civil justice reform.

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