Corrupt Politicians – Sheldon Silver goes down for 7 years

Sheldon Silver, the former speaker of the State Assembly who rose to become one of New York’s most powerful politicians, was sentenced to seven years in prison on Friday for his conviction on federal corruption charges.

Mr. Silver, a Democrat from Manhattan’s Lower East Side, had served as speaker for more than two decades, and influenced nearly every major aspect of state politics. He was convicted in May after an earlier conviction, in 2015, was overturned on appeal.

“This crime was driven by unmitigated greed,” the judge, Valerie E. Caproni of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said before she announced the sentence, referring to one of Mr. Silver’s two corrupt schemes.

“The bottom line is that Silver wanted to seem to be a man of the people while he was using his public position to richly line his own pockets,” she added.

Mr. Silver, along with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Dean G. Skelos, the former Republican State Senate majority leader, became known as one of the “three men in a room” who controlled decision-making in Albany. He also demonstrated a remarkable ability to fend off incursions from political rivals and investigators, inevitably emerging unbowed.

But last week, writing to the judge, Mr. Silver, 74, portrayed himself as a broken man. “Everything I ever accomplished has become a joke and a spectacle,” he wrote, adding, “I pray I will not die in prison.”

In court on Friday, he said, “Going forward, I fear that I will continue to be ridiculed, shamed by the stain that is upon me.”

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Mr. Silver sat impassively, hunched forward in a chair, as the judge imposed the sentence, which also included a $1.75 million fine.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement, “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.”


At the retrial, prosecutors again showed that Mr. Silver had obtained nearly $4 million in illicit payments in return for taking official actions on behalf of a cancer researcher, Robert N. Taub, at Columbia University and two real estate developers.

In one scheme, Mr. Silver arranged for the State Health Department to award grants totaling $500,000 to Dr. Taub in return for his referring cancer patients with potentially lucrative legal claims to a law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, which gave part of its fees to Mr. Silver.

In the other scheme, Mr. Silver arranged for the developers, Glenwood Management and the Witkoff Group, to send certain tax business to the law firm Goldberg & Iryami, which also gave Mr. Silver a portion of its fees.


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