Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been sentenced to 7-years in prison for taking bribes and money laundering. The once respected democratic politician was convicted in November of 2015 and was originally sentenced to 12-years in 2016. Silver is still on his $200,000 bail that he posted back when he was first arrested.
Silver, 74, took nearly $4 million in bribes and earned over $1 million in money laundering schemes. After his first court conviction, the charges were eventually dropped following a Supreme court decision regarding corruption laws. After Siler’s lawyers appealed, a retrial was set for May. Again, Silver was convicted, but now for 7-years.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni, Silver wrote: “I pray I will not die in prison”.
Silver has publically reflected on his involvement in corrupt politics:
“The work that has been the focus of most of my life has become dirty and shameful. Everything I ever accomplished has become a joke and a spectacle. … I beg for your mercy so that I can somehow go out into the world again to atone to everyone I have hurt.”
Michael Feldberg, Silver’s lawyer, told The New York Post that they are going to appeal the second conviction. Feldberg believes that “the government failed to prove that Silver promised anything for the referrals,” according to NPR.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman issued the following statement on Friday:
“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.”
The reduction in prison time is a loss for the citizens of New York State. Other New York politicians are being convicted on similar charges of unethical practices, including New York Senate majority leader Dan Skelos and former executive deputy secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Joe Percoco.