Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Found Guilty in Corruption Retrial

Sheldon Silver guilty of corruption
Credits: Associated Press/Seth Wenig

Sheldon Silver, the former New York State Assembly Speaker, was found guilty in the retrial of corruption charges against him.

Prosecutors accused Silver of taking $4 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for his official acts. He concealed the briberies as income from outside law practice.

In 2016, a federal court in Manhattan sentenced Silver to 12 years in prison after a federal jury found him guilty of seven counts of corruption including extortion under color of official right.  The court also ordered him to pay $1.75 million fine after a federal jury.

In 2017, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision of the federal court in Manhattan. The court ruled that the jury did not receive proper instruction about the definition of “official action.”

Earlier this month, prosecutors retried the corruption case against Silver to another jury. They presented evidence and testimonies of 26 witnesses during the retrial that lasted over seven days.

Sheldon Silver “sold his public office for private greed”

On Thursday, prosecutor Tatiana R. Martins, told the jury in her closing argument that “Sheldon Silver repeatedly used his enormous public power for his own enormous private.” He emphasized that the former Assembly Speaker “abused his office for profit and he knew it.”

On the other hand. Silver’s lawyer, Michael S. Feldberg argued that his client’s actions were legal. According to him, “There is not one whit of evidence of quid pro quo, not a shred of evidence of bribery.”

On Friday, the jury re-affirmed the 2015 guilty verdict on Silver. His sentencing is set on July 13. He told reporters that he was disappointed and would appeal the jury’s verdict.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said the jury unanimously found that Silver “sold his public office for greed.”

Silver was one of the three most powerful politicians in the State of New York. Prior to the corruption allegations, he was part of the “three men in a room” who made decisions about the fate of all state legislation.