NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Sheldon Silver's lawyer grilled the prosecution's star witness Thursday in the federal corruption trial of the former state Assembly speaker.
Silver's attorney tried to discredit Dr. Robert Taub's contention that Silver, 71, gave him state grants for cancer research in exchange for the doctor steering patients to Silver's law firm, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.
Silver's attorney pointed out that Taub initially lied to federal investigators, telling them he did not do any work with Silver, but then changed his story to avoid going to jail for perjury.
The defense sought to portray the two as good friends and make clear there was no explicit arrangement for the doctor to trade patient referrals in exchange for the grants.
Silver's lawyers also introduced several contracts and other documents showing all the grants Silver signed off on were scrutinized by state officials.
Federal prosecutors allege the longtime former state Assembly speaker's illegal kickback scheme netted him a third of the firm's profits, which totaled about $3 million.
On Wednesday, Taub testified that he referred more than 25 clients to Silver, hoping the powerful lawmaker would fund his research center.
"I hoped to develop a relationship with him that would help fund mesothelioma research and would help my patients," he testified.
Taub also testified that Silver helped his children get jobs.
Silver's lawyers argued that he was making a legitimate income outside his assembly salary, and that prosecutors are trying to make that a crime when it is not.
Silver stepped down from his speaker post after his arrest but retained his Assembly seat. The charges he faces carry a potential penalty of 130 years in prison upon conviction.
One juror was excused for work-related reasons Thursday.
The trial is expected to last about six weeks.
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