A federal grand jury formally indicted former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Thursday on three charges he was arrested for last month.
Thursday's indictment was required in order for a trial against Silver to proceed.
The grand jury convened after the crusading Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara filed a complaint that Silver was pocketing almost $4 million in elaborate schemes for almost 15 years.
"Our client is not guilty," said Silver attorneys Joel Cohen and Steven Molo in a statement. "We can now begin to fight for his total vindication. We intend to do that fighting where it should be done — in court."
The jury returned the three-count indictment with wire fraud, mail fraud and extortion on Thursday. If convicted, the longtime lawmaker faces 20 years in prison for each charge.
In January, Silver stepped down as speaker after holding the seat of power since 1994 and having been re-elected by his peers less than a month before he was arrested and taken to a Manhattan courthouse on Jan. 22 and pleaded not guilty.
"The show-me-the-money culture of Albany has been perpetuated and promoted at the very top of the political food chain," Bharara told reporters after Silver's arrest.