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Sheldon Silver Sentenced To Seven Years In Prison

Sheldon Silver, once one of the most powerful men in New York, arriving at the federal courthouse today
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Sheldon Silver, once one of the most powerful men in New York, arriving at the federal courthouse today Mary Altaffer/AP/Shutterstock

After being found guilty of public corruption for a second time, former NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to seven years in prison on Friday. The 74-year-old—once one of the most powerful people in New York—was also sentenced to three years of supervised release.

Silver was found guilty of wire fraud, mail fraud, extortion, and illegal monetary transactions related to accepting $4 million in kickbacks for referring tax and asbestos cases, as well as developer clients, to law firms. He had originally been convicted in 2015, and then sentenced to 12 years in prison. But an appeals court threw out the conviction last year after a Supreme Court involving the former governor of Virginia raised the bar for public corruption trials.

Silver, a Democrat representing the Lower East Side and Chinatown, was elected to the Assembly in 1976 and served as speaker from 1994 until his arrest in 2015. As one of Albany's "three men in a room" (the others being the governor and the Senate Majority Leader), Silver wielded incredible power over the city and state with his ability to make or break projects and budgets.

During the latest sentencing phase, Silver's legal team suggested ways to shorten a possible prison sentence, with possibilities that included "staffing a help desk assisting New York citizens to navigate their way through the state bureaucracy" to "maximize their chances of receiving benefits to which they may be entitled," according to the Times-Union.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement, "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...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."

Last week, Silver told the court, "Everything I ever accomplished has become a joke and a spectacle. I pray I will not die in prison."

Silver's former colleague, ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, was convicted (for a second time) of corruption earlier this month.

Forget it, Jake—it's Albany.

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