Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arrives at federal court, Monday, April 30, 2018, in New York. The former speaker returned to court Monday to listen as prosecutors accuse him for a second time of collecting $4 million in illegal kickbacks from a cancer researcher and real estate developers. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Jury hears openings at ex-Assembly leader's bribery trial

April 30, 2018 - 11:56 am

NEW YORK (AP) — A prosecutor says New York's former assembly speaker took millions of dollars in kickbacks, but his lawyer insists the money wasn't a bribe.

The dueling portrayals of Sheldon Silver were offered Monday in opening statements at his corruption trial in federal court in Manhattan.

It's the second criminal trial for the 74-year-old Silver. The once-powerful Democrat's conviction at an earlier trial was overturned.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Damien Williams told jurors that Silver engineered a bribery scheme that made him in $4 million in legal fees. He described the defendant as someone who was "blinded by greed."

Defense attorney Michael Feldberg said there was no proof that Silver pocketed the money in exchange for taking official action. He said accepting the fees was "100 percent legal."

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