Silver in May was convicted of several federal corruption charges.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Friday was sentenced to seven years in federal prison after having been found guilty a second time of using his official position to obtain nearly $4 million in bribes in exchange for his official acts and obtaining another $1 million through laundering the proceeds of his crimes.
Silver, 74, was originally convicted in November 2015 and sentenced to 12 years in prison (and ordered to pay a $1.75 million fine and forfeit $5.3 million) the following May. However, in July 2017, an appeals court overturned the conviction due to improper jury instructions.
He was retried and found guilty by a unanimous jury in May of two counts of honest services wire fraud, two counts of honest services mail fraud, two counts of extortion under color of official right, and one count of engaging in illegal monetary transactions.
According to The New York Times, Silver sent a letter two weeks ago to the presiding judge seeking leniency.
“Everything I ever accomplished has become a joke and a spectacle,” he wrote. “I pray I will not die in prison.”
Silver’s precipitous drop from the apex of the Empire State political machine began in January 2015, when he was arrested following a federal corruption probe charging one of Albany’s “Three Men in a Room” with using his position to receive nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks from people and businesses in exchange for his official acts, and obtaining another $1 million through laundering the proceeds of his crimes.
According to federal prosecutors, Silver was convicted of using his substantial power—including his influence over the real estate industry and his control over certain healthcare funding—to unlawfully enrich himself by soliciting and obtaining client referrals worth millions of dollars from people and entities in exchange for official acts, and attempting to disguise the money as legitimate outside income earned from his work as a private lawyer.
“When he assumed his powerful position at the top of New York State government, Sheldon Silver took an oath to do the work of the people. Instead, he leveraged his tremendous influence to pad his bank account and line his pockets,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. “Sheldon Silver has been given a lengthy sentence of seven years in federal prison. We hope today’s fittingly stiff sentence sends a clear message: Brokering official favors for your personal benefit is illegal and will result in prison time.”