NEW YORK — After four years and two trials, former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced Monday to 6 1/2 years for a corruption scheme involving developers dependent on Albany support.
Silver, 76, had last been sentenced to seven years in prison for the developers scheme, as well as a second involving legal referrals for mesothelioma patients. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals tossed the guilty verdicts tied to the latter scam in January and ordered Silver be resentenced.
The Lower East Side Democrat was convicted of secretly taking $800,000 in legal fees from real estate developers from 2005 to 2015. The money came mainly from Glenwood Management, which owns luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan and the Bronx. The company is one of the biggest campaign contributors in state politics.
In return for the money, Silver performed a number of favors, including supporting tax breaks and landlord-friendly rent rules under the state’s 2011 Rent Act and voting in favor of Glenwood’s applications for tax-exempt financing of its projects.
Silver, once one of the “three men in a room” who decided major New York state policies in secret, begged Judge Valerie Caproni for leniency in a letter in June.
“Your Honor, I do not want to die in prison,” pleaded Silver, who was Assembly speaker from 1994 to 2015.
“As a public official, you are not entitled to anything. You have to earn your votes every day and your rewards are in the satisfaction that you did good and earned the respect of the community, which are both deeply meaningful. This has to be enough, otherwise find a new line of work.
“It should have been enough for me but it wasn’t and I am ruined.”
Silver was found guilty — twice — of a second corruption scheme involving $3.3 million earned through legal referrals of mesothelioma patients. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals vacated three charges related to that scheme, ruling that it did not meet the legal standards for extortion.
Silver was first sentenced to 12 years in prison for the schemes in May 2016. A Supreme Court ruling that changed the legal definition of public corruption required he be tried again.
Caproni has noted that Silver aged dramatically during the long legal fight.
“Visually, he’s aged more than the three years chronologically that have gone by since he was first charged,” she said in 2018.
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