Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver sentenced to prison for 12 years

By LOUIS FLORES

Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Lower East Side) was today sentenced to 12 years in prison, ordered to forfeit over $5 million in criminal gains, and fined $1,75 million by U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni.

Although former Assembly Speaker Silver had faced the prospect of serving 21 to 27 years, according to Federal sentencing guidelines, Federal prosecutors had been seeking a sentence of more than ten (10) years of prison. He must report to prison by 1 July to begin serving his sentence.

Former Assembly Speaker Silver was arrested in January 2015 on several counts of Federal corruption charges, which were later amended by an indictment in February 2015, primarily centered around the corruption charge of theft of honest services for having monetised his office for personal gain. His schemes included receiving unreported income from having referred legal work to a boutique tax law firm, which represented real estate companies.

After the sentencing was announced, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara tweeted, "Today's stiff sentence is a just and fitting end to Sheldon Silver's long career of corruption."

The nation's top Federal prosecutor for New York's southern district has expressed a complete lack of compassion for an elected official, once the elected official had been convicted of corruption crimes. On 30 November, after a Federal jury found former Assembly Speaker Silver guilty on all counts, U.S. Attorney Bharara issued a short statement, which read, "Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York."

Former Assembly Speaker Silver had been found guilty prior to the commencement of another Federal corruption trial, that one of former State Senate President Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre). That trial, which also included the trial of former State Senator Skelos' son, Adam, also ended with a jury returning a verdict of guilty on all counts.

Former State Senator Skelos and his son face sentencing later this month.

The corruption charges, trials, and sentencing of the former top legislative leaders in Albany are part of a wave of corruption prosecutions by U.S. Attorney Bharara, who has described the state capital as a "cauldron of corruption."

As part of the wave of corruption investigations and prosecutions, several municipal and state legislators have faced criminal charges. Amongst other elected officials now reportedly being investigated are the administrations of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) and Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City).