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Law Firm Leader: Sheldon Silver Was Paid for Referrals

New York

Lawyers from Weitz & Luxenberg offered an explanation for how Sheldon Silver managed to earn upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year while serving as speaker of the State Assembly. Weitz & Luxenberg managing attorney Gary R. Klein said that Silver wasn't actually practicing law, but instead getting paid to refer cases to the firm. He said that about three-quarters of Silver's income came from referrals from Dr. Robert N. Taub, an oncologist specializing in mesothelioma, the New York Times reports.

Silver is being charged with giving Dr. Taub $500k in state grants in exchange for steering patients with asbestos-related claims to the law firm. These mesothelioma cases were potentially worth millions of dollars, according to prosecutors.

Silver has pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud, extortion and money laundering. His lawyers claim that Dr. Taub referred patients to Silver because they were friends, and that money was not a factor.

However, when asked by a prosecutor if other lawyers at the firm received salaries without performing legal work, Klein said no. He also testified that when Silver complained that his checks were taking too long to arrive, Klein had the checks delivered by hand, before eventually depositing them into Silver's bank account, himself. [NYT]