May 3, 2016

Ex-New York Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison For Corruption

[From article]
Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to 12 years in a federal penitentiary Tuesday by a Manhattan judge who called him “a scheming corrupt politician.”
The Manhattan Democrat — one of the most powerful politicians in the state before his arrest last year — also was ordered to fork over $5.3 in ill-gotten gains and another $1.75 million in fines.
The disgraced ex-pol was handed two prison terms by federal Judge Valerie Caproni: 12 years for the six criminal counts against him, including mail and wire fraud and extortion, and another 10 years on a seventh count involving money-laundering. The terms will run concurrently.
Silver must surrender to begin serving his sentence July 1.

The conviction and hefty sentence — the second highest for a state politician convicted of corruption in the past decade — has capped a stellar run of Albany and New York City corruption cases brought by Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara and federal authorities in Brooklyn.
Bharara stood in the back of the courtroom to watch Silver’s justice meted out.
“Today’s stiff sentence is a just and fitting end to Sheldon Silver’s long career of corruption,’’ Bharara later said in a statement.

Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara

In court, a humbled Silver told Judge Caproni, “I believe that my letter to the court probably captured it best — without question, I let down my family, let down my colleagues, let down my constituents, and I’m truly, truly sorry for that.”
The 72-year-old kept his head lowered as his sentence was rendered and then briefly closed his eyes.
Silver’s long-suffering wife, Rosa, remained stoic, even as Caproni lit into her husband for his politically-charged extramarital affairs which Bharara’s prosecutors detailed in filings — one with a lobbyist who had extensive business before the state and another with a former beauty-queen turned assemblywoman who landed two cushy public-service jobs.
“Did a lobbyist have preferred access because she was a better lobbyist than her competitors, or was it payback for a personal relationship?’’ Caproni said before sentencing the shamed ex-pol.
“Did Silver do things just to be nice — or did he do things because somewhere there was something in it for him?” she added.

Caproni also ordered Silver to fork over more than $7 million, including all of his ill-gotten gains and another $1.75 million in fines.
One of Silver’s lawyer’s asked the judge to recommend that he be sent to the Otisville minimum-security “camp’’ in upstate Orange County. Caproni said she would do so, although the final decision is up to the federal Bureau of Prisons.
[. . .]
A Manhattan federal jury found Silver guilty in November of abusing his power for more than a decade in exchange for bribes and kickbacks.
Silver faced as much as 27 years in prison for his crimes, but federal prosecutors told the judge they simply wanted Silver to serve out a longer sentence than any other New York legislator.
Ex-Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. has held that title since 2015, when he was sentenced to 14 years.
When it came to Silver, there were “no excuses, just pure greed — and then he tried to hide his crime proceeds by investing them,’’ Assistant US Attorney Carrie Cohen told Caproni before sentencing.
[. . .]
Silver’s son and three daughters told the judge about their modest upbringing, and his wife, a former schoolteacher, talked about her fear that he will be sick and alone in jail.
[. . .]

U.S. Judge Valerie E. Caproni

After three days of deliberation, the Manhattan federal jury found that Silver accepted $3 million in payments from the law firm Weitz & Luxenberg, despite doing no legal work.
Instead, Silver was paid based off his cozy relationship with a Columbia University doctor, who received $500, 000 in state funds to finance his research into mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos. In exchange, the doctor referred asbestos patients to Weitz & Luxenberg, which then paid Silver.
The jury also found that the Lower East Side resident earned $700,000 from a separate law firm after hooking them up with a pair of lucrative real-estate-developer clients. While receiving money from the developers, Silver took state actions that benefited them.
The government has already blocked Silver from access to $3.8 million in assets spread across eight different bank and investment accounts.
The ex-Assemblyman also has another $2 million, including “readily liquid assets of more than $1 million,” the government said in a recent filing.
The judge said Silver’s $70,000 a year pension is currently worth $850,000.
Minutes before his sentencing, the judge issued a ruling denying Silver’s motion for a new trial.

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