Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, once one of the most powerful politicians in the Empire State, was found guilty on Friday at his retrial on public corruption charges.
It took a jury just over a day of deliberation to convict Silver, who now faces up to 20 years in prison, on all seven charges, including honest services mail fraud and money laundering.
“In retrial former assembly speaker Sheldon Silver swiftly found guilty on all counts. Great work by the SDNY team once again. All New Yorkers should be grateful,” former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara tweeted.
Silver, a Manhattan democrat, was initially convicted on federal corruption charges in 2015. The veteran lawmaker’s trial exposed Albany’s pervasive pay-to-play culture, with prosecutors showing that Silver received $4 million in illicit fees in exchange for doing official acts on behalf of two real-estate developers and a cancer researcher.
Silver was sentenced to 12 years behind bars, but his conviction was overturned in July 2017, after an appeals court ruled that the judge had given jurors an erroneous definition for what constitutes an “official act” after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2016 had narrowed the definition.
During opening arguments at his second trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Damian Williams argued again that Silver, whom he described as a rapacious politician, used his immense power for personal gain.
“Quid pro quo. This for that,” Williams said of his schemes, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“This was not politics as usual,” he added later. “This was politics for profit, and no one played that game better than Sheldon Silver.”
Silver’s lawyer argued that nothing he did was illegal.
“Being imperfect is not a crime. It is human,” defense attorney Michael Feldberg said, according to the newspaper. “Is any of us perfect?”