Followup: Sheldon Silver’s Second Conviction on Corruption Charges

On Friday afternoon, a Manhattan jury found Sheldon Silver guilty of federal corruption charges. Prosecutors retried the former Lower East Side assemblyman after an appeals count threw out the original guilty verdict.  Deliberating for a little more than one day, jurors convicted him on all seven counts, including two counts of honest services fraud and one of extortion under color of official right, and a count of money laundering. Sentencing will take place in July.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni allowed Silver to remain free on bail. “You don’t seem like a bail jumping kind of guy,” she noted in court on Friday. Silver’s lawyer, Michael Feldberg, promised another appeal, citing “multiple legal issues,” and said, “We are confident that at the end of this long battle we will prevail.”

Upon leaving the courthouse, Silver was stoic as ever, telling reporters, “Obviously, I’m disappointed at this point” (but) I’m confident that the judicial process will play out in my favor.”

Even though the verdict came swiftly, jurors made it clear their deliberations were difficult. From the New York Times:

As jurors left the courthouse, one, Marvin Carson, told several reporters how the jury worked carefully as they went through each of the seven charges. “There was always somebody who wasn’t ready to agree,” Mr. Carson said. “And we wanted every detail checked off.” He described the deliberations as “emotional,” a process that left several jurors in tears, and him longing for a whiskey.

And from Newsday:

Juror Marvin Carson said outside the courthouse on Friday, “There’s tears and there’s upset. It was very emotional . . . because you’ve convicted another human being.” Asked if the testimony about Silver’s quid pro quo schemes had given him a negative impression of state government, Carson said, “It’s one guy.” The jury forewoman, who declined to give her name, walked out of the courthouse in tears. Answering reporters’ questions, she said the government had put on a good case. “I feel very sorry,” she said. “It was very difficult, everything was very difficult. I tried my best.”

Acting U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said:

I commend the career prosecutors of our Office’s Public Corruption Unit, whose determination in securing this important conviction fittingly underscores the importance of pursuing cases against corrupt politicians, no matter the difficulty… One of the most worthy endeavors of this Office is combating public corruption. We will continue to do so with the independence and resolve the Southern District is known for and the citizens of New York so rightly deserve.

Prosecutors alleged that Silver pocketed $4 million in exchange for performing “official acts” in his role as Assembly speaker. These included directing grants to a cancer researcher, who referred cases to a law firm where Silver worked, and enacting legislation beneficial to real estate developers.

In the first trial, Judge Caproni sentenced Silver to 12 years in prison. The lifelong Lower East Side resident is 74.