Breaking: Sheldon Silver Found Guilty on All Charges (Updating Continuously)
A jury this afternoon found Lower East Side Assemblyman Sheldon Silver guilty on all seven charges he faced in a federal corruption case.
After three partial days of deliberations, they returned the verdict a short time ago. The charges included four counts of honest-services fraud, two counts of extortion, and one count of money laundering.
The conviction means the automatic expulsion from the assembly, where Silver has served since 1977.
More to come…
UPDATE 4:24 p.m. In a statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York.”
During the three week trial, about 25 witnesses testified regarding two schemes that prosecutors said netted Silver $4 million in illegitimate legal fees. In one scheme, the former assembly speaker was accused of funneling state grants to a cancer researcher, Dr. Robert Taub, in exchange for lucrative legal referrals. In the other, Silver got a cut of fees paid by two big real estate developers to Goldberg & Iryami, a law firm specializing in property tax cases.
This morning, a juror pleaded with Judge Valerie Caproni to let him off the case, but she refused. The Bronx man, a taxi driver, said he feared a friend of Silver would pull a medallion he leases as retribution. Last week, another juror unsuccessfully tried to get off the panel.
While the 71-year-old Silver could sentenced to 130 years in federal prison, the Daily News reported the term will more likely be in the 20-year range. An appeal is a certainty. As for his seat in the 65th Assembly District, it will be up to the governor to decide whether a special election will be called and when.
UPDATE 5:08 p.m.
The Times Union reports that Silver’s name has already been removed from the door of his office at the Capitol. Same goes with the Assembly website. There’s now just a generic page for the 65th Assembly District, showing a map of Lower Manhattan.
UPDATE 5:32 p.m. More reaction coming in now…
The verdict on Sheldon Silver must be the beginning of a new chapter, in which public services triumphs over greed https://t.co/QeHhIA4BR9
— Letitia James (@TishJames) November 30, 2015
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>The cost of corruption includes unaffordable housing & a Republican Senate in an overwhelming Democratic state, the Sheldon Silver legacy.</p>— Zephyr Teachout (@ZephyrTeachout) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ZephyrTeachout/status/671443912515563520″>November 30, 2015</a></blockquote>
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From Speaker Carl Heastie, who replaced Silver in the top leadership post after Silver’s arrest this past January:
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. The Assembly Majority remains committed to exploring ideas and implementing reforms to restore trust in our government. Accountability and transparency are of the utmost importance to the Assembly Majority.
UPDATE 5:53 p.m. Here’s a bit more via the Times on the juror who asked to be excused earlier today:
After the verdict, (the juror, Kenneth) Graham described the deliberations as “hard,” refusing to elaborate as he left the courthouse. He said the jury had reached a particularly difficult juncture “at one point” on Wednesday, during its second day of deliberations. “I’m not going to say what,” he said. He indicated he was anxious to leave. “Whatever,” he said, “it was just hard.”
Sheldon Silver was asked what he has to say to constituents who have supported him all these years. His response: “Thank You.”
— Susanne Craig (@susannecraig) November 30, 2015
UPDATE 6:16 p.m. From Kenneth Lovett of the Daily News:
Silver supporters say he always knew where the legal line was and operated right up to that line. But (U.S. Attorney Preet) Bharara moved that line. He said enough of business as usual. Enough of using one’s office to profit personally and reward one’s friends… By finding him guilty on all seven counts, the jury said enough is enough. There may not have been explicit deals where Silver exchanged official state favors for payoffs through his legal firms, but the jury said there was enough smoke to know there was fire.
UPDATE 6:22 p.m. Here’s a statement from City Council member Margaret Chin, formerly a close ally of Assemblyman Silver:
As an elected official who proudly represents some of the same people who repeatedly put their faith in one man to further their best interests in Albany, I have been troubled by the steady stream of revelations regarding Mr. Silver’s conduct. Today’s verdict by a jury of his peers confirms the worst of those allegations. By committing the crimes of which he now stands convicted, Mr. Silver betrayed the trust of voters who have the right to expect honesty, integrity, and ethics from their elected representatives.
UPDATE 7:30 p.m. Mayor de Blasio released a statement this evening:
Today’s verdict is a reminder that the public good must be the only priority for elected officials. The people of New York expect and deserve better.
UPDATE 7:41 p.m. And now Governor Cuomo weighs in:
Today, justice was served. Corruption was discovered, investigated, and prosecuted, and the jury has spoken. With the allegations proven, it is time for the Legislature to take seriously the need for reform. There will be zero tolerance for the violation of the public trust in New York.