A little over a year after his arrest on multiple corruption charges, former Assembly Speaker and one of the famed ‘three men in a room’ controlling New York politics, Sheldon Silver, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role involving corruption schemes that netted him $4 million in legal fees.
Prior to his arrest, Silver was widely considered the most powerful Democrat in the State Legislature.
A 12 year sentence and $1.75 million fine for Sheldon Silver.
— Vivian Yee (@VivianHYee) May 3, 2016
In addition, Silver must forfeit over $5.1 million in ill-gotten gains
Judge say final number for forfeiture is $5,179,000+ because it is not tax deductible even if #SheldonSilver paid taxes on corrupt gains.
— WNYT NewsChannel 13 (@WNYT) May 3, 2016
Prosecutors had requested Silver receive a sentence “higher than any sentence imposed on any other New York convicted state officials.”
They argued, “no one, including Sheldon Silver, is above the law.”
The record remains in the hands of former Democrat Assemblyman William Boyland, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2015.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued a statement after Silver was convicted in November which read, “Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York.”
After the sentencing, he tweeted:
Today's stiff sentence is a just and fitting end to Sheldon Silver's long career of corruption
— US Attorney Bharara (@PreetBharara) May 3, 2016
Silver was arrested and convicted on federal corruption charges for collecting nearly $4 million in illegitimate payments from the law firm Goldberg & Iryami, and another named Weitz & Luxenberg, performing no tasks in exchange for the payments. Silver also failed to report those earnings on his annual financial disclosure filings.
NYSGOP Chair Ed Cox called Silver the leader of “the Democratic Culture of Corruption” in New York adding that the former speaker “allowed serial sex abusers of women to remain in the State Assembly.”
Two women had sued Silver for facilitating sexual harassment in the Assembly when he paid victims of the late Democrat Assemblyman Vito Lopez over $100,000 in taxpayer funds to keep quiet about the abuse. That lawsuit was settled by a $580,000 payment, according to the women’s lawyer.
Silver’s use of taxpayer funds to settle harassment claims in this case was not without precedent.
In 2003, Silver was criticized for a slow response to a case involving his former aide, J. Michael Boxley, who was accused of rape and later pled guilty to sexual misconduct. Three years later, the Assembly agreed to pay $500,000 of taxpayer money to settle the case.
In the end, Silver wasn’t able to pay his way out of his own corruption charges.