Ex New York State Assembly Speaker Found Guilty of Corruption Charges
London, May 12, 2018 (AltAfrika)-Sheldon Silver, the former powerful Democratic speaker of the New York State Assembly, was on Friday found guilty of federal corruption charges less than a year after his first conviction on the same charges was thrown out.
The guilty verdict was another turn in the extended epilogue of Mr. Silver’s long career, which included decades holding sway over nearly every major aspect of New York politics, and an uncanny ability to dodge attacks from competitors, investigators and, until recently, prosecutors.
Mr. Silver was convicted in 2015 on charges related to nearly $4 million he obtained in illicit payments in return for taking actions that benefited a cancer researcher at Columbia University and two real estate developers in New York.
The case was among a number of political corruption cases that were overturned after the United States Supreme Court in 2016 narrowed the activity that could constitute corruption.
In a ruling that reversed the conviction of Bob McDonnell, a former Republican governor of Virginia, the court found that such activity must involve concrete and formal government decisions or actions, and not mere political courtesies like setting up a meeting.
Mr. Silver’s retrial was widely watched as a test of the government’s ability to prosecute official corruption under the narrower definition.
But from the outset, prosecutors this time seemed to hold an upper hand: The original verdict was only thrown out because the judge’s jury instructions were too broad, as defined by the Supreme Court decision.
The retrial in Federal District Court in Manhattan seemed to move at double speed
Instead of stretching over one month, as the first trial had, the second trial was completed in two weeks, as prosecutors quickly made their case that Mr. Silver, 74, had obtained the illicit payments.
In return, prosecutors said, Mr. Silver took a series of official actions that benefited a cancer researcher at Columbia University and two real estate developers in New York.
New York Times