Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison Tuesday following his conviction last year on corruption charges.
Silver, 72, was arrested in January 2015 on charges of taking nearly $4 million in kickbacks from two law firms in exchange for state contracts and gaining another $1 million by investing those proceeds.
Silver, who represented much of Lower Manhattan during nearly four decades in the Assembly, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni.
“Today’s stiff sentence is a just and fitting end to Sheldon Silver’s long career of corruption,” Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said following the sentencing.
Silver was convicted in November of two counts of honest services wire fraud, two counts of honest services mail fraud, two counts of extortion under color of official right and one count of engaging in illegal monetary transactions. Caproni also ordered Silver to pay a $1.75 million fine and forfeit $5.3 million.
Silver was elected Assembly speaker in 1994, ascending to what is nominally the state’s second most powerful elected office and, prosecutors said, giving him the means to improperly enrich himself.
Although Silver, an attorney by training, claimed that his millions in income were payment for his work as a lawyer, prosecutors proved he was instead being paid for his unlawful influence as a legislator and speaker. They showed that he doled out legislative favors for real estate developers and steered state grants to a prominent physician in return for referrals to law firms with which he was associated but for which he did not perform work. Silver then received millions in kickbacks from the law firms.