New York – Just ten days after the arrest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver comes word that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is making good on his promise to continue rooting out corruption in New York State with an investigation that is currently focusing on lower Manhattan’s State Supreme Court.
According to reports in the New York Post, an investigation insider said that Bharara is looking closely at the state’s 60 Centre Street civil courts, with many allegedly questionable cases tried at that location by judges with close ties to Silver from the Lower East Side.
Among the judges named in connection with this phase of the federal investigation are Jonathan Lippman, the chief judge of New York Court of Appeals. Silver and Lippman are long time friends and Silver is said to have played a role in Lippman’s climb up the judicial ladder, in an effort to promote his own interests. Lippman was appointed to his current post by Governor David Paterson in 2009.
“The appointment of Sheldon Silver’s childhood friend, Jonathan Lippman, as the state’s chief judge based on his administrative experience made about as much sense as the Yankees making their accountant the manager of the team,” noted former Supreme Court Officers Association president Charles Compton.
Also in Bharara’s crosshairs are Supreme Court Justice Martin Shulman, former president of Silver’s synagogue, Judge Joan Madden and Judge Sherry Klein Heitler. As previously mentioned on VIN News, Heitler reversed a twenty year old decision last year, allowing for punitive damages to be awarded in absestos cases, a move that was allegedly requested by the Weitz & Luxenberg law firm which employs Silver.
The US Attorney’s Office refused to confirm or deny any probe and the FBI declined to comment on the matter.