Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's Corruption Conviction Overturned

Insiders on Silver Sentencing Preet's Probes

Insiders on Silver Sentencing Preet's Probes 05/03/2016 08:09 PM

Kaminsky and others urged legislative action or even a constitutional convention to put some teeth in New York's ethics laws after a federal appeals court vacated the conviction of Silver - who led the state Assembly for 20 years before being convicted in 2015 - because jury instructions didn't comport with recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that effectively made it harder to convict elected officials on bribery charges.

Silver's 12-year sentence was the second-highest ever received by a NY politician but he stayed out of prison pending this morning's reversal on the strength of a Supreme Court precedent involving another disgraced politician: former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell.

A three-judge panel rejected Silver's challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence.

"The question presented to us, however, is not how a jury would likely view the evidence presented by the government", he added.

He also said that political corruption can still be prosecuted by the government, and noted that McDonnell's actions were "distasteful".

The court ruling does not dispute the facts presented in the case. On May 3, 2016, federal judge Valerie E. Caproni of the United States District Court for the Southern District of NY sentenced Silver to 12 years in jail, and ordered him to pay $5.3 million in ill-gotten gains and $1.75 million in additional fines.

Lawyers for Silver had made the McDonnell ruling a key component of their appeal. Rather, the jury was told that an "official act" is "any action taken or to be taken under color of official authority".

Additional details are available on the New York Times website. "Nor did the instructions prevent the jury from concluding that meetings or events with a public official to discuss a given matter were official acts by that public official". "I think given the importance of the case, in the history of NY and the long litany of corruption that's been exposed in Albany its very important for the USA attorney to try this case again". Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim all but promised on Thursday to bring the case back to court.

Kim said that although justice will be delayed, prosecutors do not expect justice to be denied.

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office had prosecuted Silver, tweeted, "The evidence was strong".

Steven Molo and Joel Cohen, Silver's lawyers, said in a statement, "We are grateful the court saw it our way and reversed the conviction on all counts".

Another part of the McDonnell case that might come into play is the role of low-key favors in Silver's conviction. In another, Silver stood accused of receiving secret legal fees from another law firm after he referred two real-estate developers to it as clients. "It remains to be seen whether he wins the war".

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