Criminal trial of Sheldon Silver begins with jury selection

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NEW YORK — The criminal trial of the former speaker of the New York Assembly begins Monday with jury selection.

The trial of 71-year-old Sheldon Silver is the first of two to begin in November involving two men who had been among three of the state’s most powerful politicians.

Silver says he’ll be vindicated. As early as Tuesday, a jury in Manhattan federal court will begin hearing evidence that payments Silver received while working at a law firm were actually bribes meant to influence legislative work.

Defense lawyers say prosecutors are trying to criminalize longstanding features of New York state government.

Later in November, former New York Senate leader Dean Skelos will stand trial with his son on extortion and bribe charges. He has said he and his son are innocent.