Jury selection has been completed and trial testimony is ongoing in the corruption trial against State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Prosecutors allege, among other things, that Silver, who had previously been on the payroll at Weitz & Luxenberg, funneled state funds to Dr. Robert Taub of Columbia University for cancer research in exchange for referrals of mesothelioma patients to Weitz & Luxenberg, which then paid Silver for the patient referrals. Jury selection started in early November and the panel originally consisted of nine women and three men, with four alternates. One of the original jurors was excused when an issue arose with the payment of her salary during the trial. Dr. Taub, who entered into a non-prosecution agreement with prosecutors, testified over two days. He explained that he began referring mesothelioma patients to Weitz & Luxenberg in 2003 at Silver’s request and eventually referred 25-50 patients over the next decade. Taub has also testified that Silver would ask for more referrals whenever he requested more research funding from the government, but acknowledged that he had no explicit agreement with the speaker. Taub testified that he knew the referrals would “benefit [Silver’s] standing in the firm,” but denied having any awareness that Weitz & Luxenberg was paying the speaker for the referrals.
Lawyers from Weitz & Luxenberg have testified that Silver did not perform any actual legal work for the firm since joining in 2002. Arthur Luxenberg stated “We thought that Sheldon Silver would bring prestige, honor to the firm, and help the name of the firm.” Luxenberg also stated that Silver never told him that he was using state money to fund Dr. Taub’s clinic.