Judge Raps Bharara Over Comments After Shelly Silver Arrest

NEW YORK (AP) -

A federal prosecutor went too far in criticizing one of the state’s most powerful politicians after his arrest but not so far that the indictment against him must be tossed out, a judge said Friday as she dropped the gavel on the government’s handling of the arrest.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni picked apart U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s characterization of then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s January arrest, particularly comments at a news conference and in a speech he delivered a day later.

“In this case, the U.S. Attorney, while castigating politicians in Albany for playing fast and loose with the ethical rules that govern their conduct, strayed so close to the edge of the rules governing his own conduct that defendant Sheldon Silver has a non-frivolous argument that he fell over the edge to the defendant’s prejudice,” the judge wrote.

She said she could not condone the “government’s brinkmanship” or the “media blitz” that prosecutors orchestrated in the days after the Democrat’s arrest but also could not conclude that the actions unfairly influenced a grand jury that later indicted him.

Silver has pleaded not guilty and said he’ll be vindicated.