NEW YORK (AP) — New York state's former assembly speaker has asked a judge to toss out criminal charges against him.

Attorneys for Sheldon Silver said in papers filed in Manhattan federal court Thursday that the charges against him rest on a "theory in search of a crime." Prosecutors say the 71-year-old Democrat took nearly $4 million in payoffs and kickbacks before he was charged in January in the bribery case.

A spokesman for prosecutors declined to comment. Silver's lawyers say prosecutors brought an indictment which "blatantly disregards" Supreme Court rulings which limit when prosecutors can label conflicts of interest or self-dealing as bribes and kickbacks.

The lawyers claimed the government built its case not on actual federal crimes but rather on longstanding features of New York state government the U.S. attorney finds distasteful.

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