Ex-Assembly speaker found guilty in corruption retrial

Ex-Assembly speaker found guilty in corruption retrial

A federal jury on Friday convicted Sheldon Silver, the former powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, on all counts in his second trial for public corruption.

For decades, Silver, now 74, seemed to be an invincible power broker in the state.

Last July an appellate court tossed out Silver's first conviction on grounds that the prosecution's jury instructions had violated the Supreme Court's 2016 ruling on corruption in the case of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

He was convicted on the same charges in 2015.

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The Supreme Court found in that decision that routine political activities such as arranging meetings or reaching out to public officials were not "official acts" that could be prosecuted under federal bribery law.

After his first trial, the judge, Valerie E. Caproni of U.S. District Court for the Southern District of NY, imposed a 12-year sentence on Silver, but he remained free pending his appeal and second trial. Prosecutors say Silver took $4 million in payoffs disguised as legal fees, with Silver's lawyer arguing there was no crime, calling the fees "common, standard and accepted".

"Silver knew that Dr. Taub was sitting on something worth a lot of money, an active medical practice full of mesothelioma patients with valuable legal claims", Martins told the jury Thursday. Both Glenwood and Witkoff testified that at that the time they were unaware Silver was receiving a kickback from the fees they were paying the firm. Silver had supported legislation to benefit the developers, according to prosecutors.

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