Former Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, has been found guilty on corruption charges on Monday.
While the charges Silver is facing could lead to a maximum of 130 years in prison, he is expected to be sentenced lesser jail time. Currently, he is released on bail. The verdict comes as a major victory for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who said Albany was a “cauldron of corruption.” Bharara had announced charges against Silver, who served the Lower East Side, in January. According to NY Daily News, Bharara said, “Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York.”
Former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, currently serving trial for corruption, also faced charges. The two leaders, who formed two thirds of the “three men in a room,” are responsible for important legislation in New York’s government. After their arrests, both resigned from their posts but retained their seats. According to Reuters, Silver will lose his office after his conviction.
Silver’s attorney, Steven Molo, said they would launch a “vigorous” appeal. Molo contested the allegations brought against his client, saying that they were part of the legal conduct that is politics in Albany.
Prosecutors claimed that Silver gave $500,000 as part of secret state grant money to Robert Taub, a cancer researcher, who referred asbestos patients to Silver’s law firm. Millions of dollars in referral fees were paid to Silver.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Silver’s successor, said, “I am deeply saddened by the events that have taken place this year, culminating with today’s conviction of former Speaker Sheldon Silver. Words simply aren’t enough. We will continue to work to root out corruption and demand more of elected officials when it comes to ethical conduct.”