- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 3, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) - The latest at the federal corruption trial of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (all times local).

5:30 p.m.

Prosecutors wasted little time getting to the heart of the corruption case against ex-New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Their second witness Tuesday - Perry Weitz - is a founder of the Weitz & Luxenberg firm. Prosecutors say Silver used the firm to earn more than $3 million by referring clients with asbestos-related claims. They say Silver corruptly got clients by using state funds to contribute to a doctor’s treatment center and contribute to his family. Prosecutors say Silver earned $5 million illegally over more than a decade.

Silver’s attorney says Silver never broke the law.

Weitz, who continues testimony Wednesday, distanced himself from Silver. He says Silver never told him about how state money was used and he never met the doctor who supplied Silver with clients.

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4 p.m.

The first witness at the corruption trial of ex-New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s trial was another legislator.

Democratic Assemblywoman Amy Paulin of Scarsdale explained how the state legislature works. She read aloud the pledge that legislators make to carry out duties honestly.

Then on cross examination she all but apologized for some actions. She says she may advise her husband not to own hundreds of thousands of dollars of stock in companies affected by her votes.

At one point, Paulin chuckled while noting Silver, a once powerful Democrat, has probably made more outside money while an assemblyman than any other officeholder.

Prosecutors say he made $4 million through kickbacks and bribes and then another million by investing illegally gotten money. A defense lawyer says Silver never broke the law.

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1 p.m.

A defense lawyer has denied charges that the former New York Assembly speaker took bribes.

Defense attorney Steven Molo spoke to the jury in opening statements Tuesday at Sheldon Silver’s federal corruption trial. He says the once-powerful Democratic politician never broke the law by collecting millions of dollars in referral fees from law firms.

Prosecutors claim the fees were kickbacks for legislative favors.

The defense lawyer says the 71-year-old Silver has a record of protecting the rights of tenants, not developers. He also says Silver, who’s a lawyer, can earn an unlimited outside income under the rules of the legislature.

Silver was arrested in January on charges he accepted nearly $4 million in kickbacks and bribes. Prosecutors say he made another million by investing the illegal gains.

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11:30 a.m.

A prosecutor has kicked off former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s corruption trial by saying he used his “enormous power” to make about $5 million illegally.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Cohen addressed a Manhattan federal court jury as opening statements began Tuesday. Statements in Silver’s defense were to follow.

The longtime powerful Democrat was arrested in January on charges he accepted nearly $4 million in kickbacks and bribes. Cohen says he made another million by investing the illegal gains.

Silver has pleaded not guilty, saying he will be vindicated at trial, which is expected to last up to six weeks. His lawyers say prosecutors are unjustly criminalizing practices long sanctioned in Albany.

Silver quit his speaker post after his arrest but has retained his Assembly seat.

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