By MICHAEL GARETH JOHNSON
Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, widely considered one of the most powerful politicians in the state of New York for more than a decade in the early 2000s, was sentenced to serve seven years in federal prison last week on corruption charges.
The former leader, who was known as a progressive firewall for uniting his conference to block bills that would scale back rights of unions or negatively impact working class communities, was convicted in March in his second trial on charges that he personally profited by more than $4 million by funneling state money to interests tied to the law firm where he worked.
“We hope today’s fittingly stiff sentence sends a clear message: Brokering official favors for your personal benefit is illegal and will result in prison time,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman in a statement.
In 2016, Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison for corruption. His conviction was then overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, leading to a second trial that ended with the former power broker being convicted in May.
Silver is scheduled to report to prison on Oct. 5, but he is appealing the sentence.
The corruption case was one of two high profile scandals that rocked the state legislature power structure in 2015. Silver’s counterpart at the time, former Republican state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, was also arrested that year and convicted on corruption charges. The same U.S. Supreme Court ruling that led to a second trial for Silver triggered a retrial for Skelos. He was convicted again this summer and is slated to be sentenced in October.