Breaking: Appeals Court Overturns Sheldon Silver’s Conviction on Corruption Charges

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A federal appeals court this morning overturned former Lower East Side Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s 2015 conviction on federal corruption charges.

The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit cited a Supreme Court ruling last year in a Virginia case that narrowed the definition of corruption by public officials. In the Silver case, the appellate court decided that the trial court judge gave faulty instructions to the jury.

Prosecutors have the option of retrying Silver, who was found guilty of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering. He was accused of taking $4 million in illegal payments. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison but allowed to remain free while his appeal was being considered.

The former assembly speaker was one of the most powerful political figures in New York. He represented the 65th Assembly District for decades before being forced to relinquish his position after the conviction.

More to come…

UPDATE 9:30 a.m. Here’s the decision:

Sheldon Silver:Appeals Court Decision by The Lo-Down on Scribd

UPDATE 10 a.m. A statement from Silver’s attorneys, Joel Cohen and Steven Molo, reads, “We’re absolutely delighted with the result, and look forward in the future to a full Silver vindication.”

UPDATE 3:21 p.m. Federal prosecutors confirm they will retry Mr. Silver. Joon H. Kim, acting U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, said in a statement:

While we are disappointed by the Second Circuit’s decision, we respect it, and look forward to retrying the case. Although finding that the Supreme Court’s McDonnell decision issued after Silver’s conviction required a different legal instruction to the jury, the Second Circuit also held that the evidence presented at the trial was sufficient to prove all the crimes charged against Silver, even under the new legal standard. Although this decision puts on hold the justice that New Yorkers got upon Silver’s conviction, we look forward to presenting to another jury the evidence of decades-long corruption by one of the most powerful politicians in New York State history. Although it will be delayed, we do not expect justice to be denied.

The case was brought by Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney who was fired by Donald Trump. Here’s what he had to say on Twitter:

 

 

UPDATE 4:08 p.m. Via the New York Post, here’s reaction from Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou, who replaced Silver in Albany: 

This case continues to move through the judicial process, but regardless of whether Mr. Silver is ultimately convicted of a felony, any public official who uses his position to line his own pockets with $4 million from special interests has violated the public trust… My district has suffered tremendously from this betrayal, and my constituents and the organizations who trusted him to represent them still feel it every day. The facts of the Silver case, which have never been disputed, demand aggressive reforms to clean up Albany… New Yorkers deserve an honest and transparent government. We are moving on from this sad chapter in my district, but we still need serious ethics reforms in our state government, including closing the LLC loophole, limiting outside income, and ensuring pensions are stripped from officials convicted of corruption.