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Sheldon Silver Indicted

MANHATTAN (CN) - A federal grand jury returned an indictment Thursday against recently arrested New York state Assemblyman Sheldon Silver.

The 25-page indictment generally rehashes the criminal complaint filed against 70-year-old Silver last month in connection with his arrest.

U.S. Judge Valerie Caproni will preside over Silver's arraignment at 3 p.m. on Feb. 24.

Silver, who kept his seat after his arrest but ended his 21-year run as speaker, is charged in the three-count indictment with honest services mail fraud, honest services wire fraud and extortion.

Federal prosecutors seek forfeiture, targeting eight of the assemblyman's bank and investment accounts, as well property in Woodridge, N.Y., and in Manhattan.

Prosecutors say Silver has been collecting millions in bribes and kickbacks since 2000, and masking the illicit earnings as legitimate income from his private-law practice.

Two law firms paid Silver more than $6 million since late 2002, according to the criminal complaint against him, which goes on to identify the law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg as the source of more than $5.3 million in Silver's earnings.

Earlier this month, Maureen Koetz, a Republican who lost to Silver by a wide margin in November, filed a complaint in Albany to have either the court or the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) act on a complaint she filed with the agency two months before the election.

Koetz asked JCOPE to investigate "potential ethical violations" by Silver in three areas: his outside income from a high-profile personal injury law firm; his dealings with a former assemblyman disgraced by sexual harassment charges; and his relationship with the fired leader of a Jewish charity who pleaded guilty to stealing from the group.

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