The Buffalo News reports:
The corruption conviction against Sheldon Silver was tossed out by a federal appeals court Thursday, a surprising turnaround for the Manhattan Democrat who helped run Albany for a generation.
The appeals court vacated Silver’s 2015 conviction for honest services fraud, extortion and bribery, along with the 12-year sentence he was given. The decision was based, in part, on a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year that overturned a corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Federal prosecutors said they will move for another trial against Silver.
Silver, 73, enriched himself by using his post as the Assembly Speaker to steer millions of dollars to himself, according to evidence at his trial.
“We recognize that many would view the facts adduced at Silver’s trial with distaste. The question presented to us, however, is not how a jury would likely view the evidence presented by the government. Rather, it is whether it is clear, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a rational jury, properly instructed, would have found Silver guilty,” the appeals court wrote in its decision this morning.
Based on both the McDonnell case, as well as evidence in Silver’s trial, the appeals could said “we simply cannot reach that decision” whether a properly instructed jury would have convicted Silver.
The court said evidence of extortion and honest services fraud against Silver was sufficient to prove his guilt, but that the district court’s instruction to the jury on those charges “was erroneous” under the terms of the Supreme Court’s decision in the McDonnell case.
The appeals court, in its ruling, vacated the conviction of Silver, but remanded it back to the district court for possibly another trial.