Assembly Speaker Mel Miller, one of the state's most powerful politicians, was indicted today on criminal charges, according to sources.
The sources, who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, said the indictment, filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, would be unsealed later today.
The sources declined to reveal details of the charges.
Miller, a Democrat, announced the impending indictment at an Albany news conference Monday, accusing federal prosecutors of going after him because he's a prominent politician.
"The only thing I'm guilty of is being speaker of the New York State Assembly. I have done nothing," Miller said. "We believe the crimes are being brought because I'm a very nice victim and it would be wonderful to put my scalp in someone's belt."
"For young assistant U.S. attorneys, it looks terrific on a resume," said Miller.
Miller, 51, said Monday night he expected to be indicted later this week or next week on federal felony charges. Miller said he expected the indict
ment, from U.S. Attorney Andrew Maloney of Brooklyn, would charge him with some form of mail fraud for his role in a 1983 and 1984 real estate transaction.
Miller denied any wrongdoing. He accused Maloney and the Republican Bush administration's Justice Department of inventing the charges after failing to get an indictment from a probe into the Democrat's relationship with a scandal-ridden credit union.
"Once finishing that, you think they would stop," said Miller's lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt. "But you're talking about a political figure, and unfortunately we've seen U.S. attorneys who look for those types of situations for purposes of self-aggrandizement."
Maloney was not available to comment.
Miller said Monday night that the indictment would deal with charges involving the sale of apartments in Brooklyn more than six years ago.
The Brooklyn Democrat said that he will fight the allegations fully and will not resign as speaker, a post he has held since 1987. If convicted, Miller could lose his seat in the Legislature as well as his attorney's license.
Jay Adolf, a lawyer for the Assembly and Miller's former law partner, also will be indicted, Miller said. That's because Adolf would not cooperate with the U.S. Justice Department, Miller said.
While an indictment has been expected for several months, Miller took the unusual step Monday of calling a news conference to announce that an indictment will be handed up as soon as today.
The government's case is based on the testimony of a man who is facing possible forgery charges, Miller said. He would not identify the man but claimed that prosecutors pressured the man into lying about Miller in exchange for leniency on the forgery allegation.
The case apparently involves transactions in 1983 and 1984 in connection with the conversion of an apartment building into a cooperative, Miller said.
According to a June edition of the Village Voice, Miller bought two units in the building at the market rate but used a fraudulent name. He then resold the units at twice the price, said the Voice story, quoting anonymous sources in the Brooklyn office of the U.S. attorney.
While Miller was purchasing the units from the building's owner, he also was representing the more than 600 tenants in the building, according to the Voice. Miller, who is an attorney, was representing the tenants in owners' plans to convert the building into co-op apartments, the Voice said.
"I've done nothing," Miller said. "The proposed charges . . . are not crimes under state law. We don't believe they are crimes under federal law.
"They've been indicting Democrats right along," Lefcourt said of the Republican-controlled Justice Department.
Miller said he staged a news conference Monday night because rumors had been circulating since Thursday, when the Brooklyn-based prosecutor informed him of the impending indictment.
"The only thing I'm happy about is that . . . the one thing about having no protection in the federal (court) system is that at least you get a fast trial," Miller told reporters.
Miller said he personally went before representatives of Maloney and top Justice Department officials in Washington in an effort to refute the charges in hopes of heading off an indictment. In a further effort to prove his innocence, Miller said he submitted a privately conducted lie-detector test.
"We went down (to Washington) because we knew we were telling the truth and had nothing to hide," Miller said. "And I will do the same thing at trial."
As speaker, Miller is one of the three most powerful officials in state government and has virtual veto power over any legislation.
Gov. Cuomo issued the following statement in behalf of Miller: "My long experience with Mel Miller would create in his favor a powerful presumption of innocence, even if the Constitution did not demand (that presumption). I wish him well."