U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is urging a federal judge to crack down hard on Sheldon Silver when the former Lower East Side assemblyman is sentenced next month.
In documents filed today, prosecutors argue that Silver should be sentenced to more than 14 years in prison. The longtime New York state power broker was convicted on corruption charges this past November.
While guidelines suggest a sentence of up to 27 years, the court’s probation department has recommended a 10-year prison term. Prosecutors have not made a specific proposal, but argue that the sentence should be “substantially in excess” of what’s been recommended.
In a memo to Judge Valerie Caproni, they called for a penalty “greater than any sentence imposed on other New York State legislators convicted of public corruption offenses.” The longest sentence for a similar crime was handed to former Assemblyman William Boyland, who was convicted on corruption charges last year. He’s serving a 14-year term. Prosecutors also want Silver to relinquish more than $5 million — profits from his bribery schemes — and pay at least $1 million in fines.
The sentence imposed on Silver should reflect the unprecedented magnitude, duration, and scope of his abuse of power… It should reflect the immeasurable damage Silver caused to the democratic process and to the public trust. It should punish Silver for the vast harm he has caused and the position of trust that he exploited, deter other elected officials from the temptation towards corruption, and communicate to the public that the rule of law applies even to the most prominent of public officials.
Silver’s lawyers also weighed in on the subject today. They called for a lighter sentence that would permit the former lawmaker to, “continue to employ his unique talents to benefit others.” They suggested that, “a sentence that incorporates extensive community service and little — if any — incarceration could do that.”
Silver was convicted last year of seven counts, including honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering. Prosecutors said he illegally collected about $4 million in legal fees after using his position, that of assembly speaker, to aid a cancer researcher and two real estate firms.
Silver will be sentenced May 3. The lifelong Lower East Side resident is 72 years old.