Sheldon Silver gets 12 years in the slammer

Former state Assembly Speaker will begin prison sentence July 1

UPDATED, 5:00 p.m., May 3: Former New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison Tuesday, after his conviction on federal corruption charges related to his dealings with several prominent real estate figures.

Silver, once one of the most powerful political figures in the state, must surrender to prison by noon on July 1. A judge also ordered him to pay a $1.75 million fine and forfeit more than $5 million in proceeds from his crimes.

In November, Silver was found guilty on all seven counts of fraud, extortion and money laundering that he faced during a five-week trial.

While the 72-year-old faced more than 100 years in prison, it was never likely he would serve a sentence near that length, according to DNAinfo.

But prosecutors did recommend a prison term “greater than any sentence imposed on other New York state legislators convicted of public corruption offenses.” Former New York state Assembly member William Boyland was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison last September after his conviction on bribery charges.

Judge Valerie Caproni described a term of around 22 to 27 years, per sentencing guidelines,  as “draconian and unjust” given Silver’s age, according to the New York Times. But in handing down the 12-year sentence, she noted that the former Speaker’s crimes had done an “incalculable harm to the people of New York.”

Addressing the court before his sentence was delivered, Silver said he was “truly, truly sorry” for letting down his constituents, family and colleagues.

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Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara voiced his approval of Silver’s sentence on Twitter:

A Democrat who served more than two decades as Assembly speaker before resigning  after his arrest in January 2015, Silver automatically forfeited the Assembly seat he had held since 1977 after his conviction last fall.

Silver’s case featured a considerable real estate angle, with federal prosecutors claiming he received nearly $4 million in illegal payments through two schemes he orchestrated. One scheme involved developers Glenwood Management and Steve Witkoff, who diverted tax business to a law firm, Goldberg & Iryami, that secretly shared fees with Silver.

Less than two weeks after Silver’s conviction, former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam were found guilty on federal corruption charges of their own. The Skelos case also featured a cameo by Glenwood; the company’s chief lobbyist, Charles Dorego, testified that Dean Skelos used his political clout to pressure Glenwood into funneling tens of thousands of dollars in payments to his son.

Both Skeloses are to be sentenced May 12. Prosecutors are recommending a prison term of 12 to 15 years for Dean Skelos and 10 to 12 years for Adam Skelos. [DNAinfo and NYT] — Rey Mashayekhi