Sheldon Silver’s conviction for real estate scheme is upheld

Former Assembly speaker still guilty of extorting Witkoff Group, Glenwood Management

Sheldon Silver’s conviction in a real estate corruption case was upheld Tuesday by a federal appeals court, although he was absolved of another scheme.

The former New York State Assembly speaker had been sentenced to seven years prison in 2018 after he was found guilty on counts of money laundering and extortion, in a scheme that involved developers Witkoff Group and Glenwood Management.

A panel of three judges in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously upheld those charges, according to the New York Times.

However, the panel overturned a conviction against Silver for his involvement in a separate kickback scheme with Columbia University cancer researcher Robert Taub, citing a lack of evidence of crimes occurring within the statute of limitations. Other malfeasance in that case happened too long before the charges were brought, the judges ruled.

Silver, a 75-year-old Democrat who represented Manhattan’s Lower East Side, served in state politics for more than two decades and became one of the three most powerful politicians in Albany.

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Silver was initially convicted in 2015 on honest services fraud, money laundering and extortion, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. But after an appeals court overturned the conviction, federal prosecutors tried him again in 2018. He was found guilty a second time — on all seven counts — but has remained free pending his appeal.

The scheme involved asking the developers to steer their tax business to law firm Goldberg & Iryami, which then issued kickbacks to Silver. At the time, Glenwood and Witkoff were lobbying Silver on real estate issues, including 421a developer tax exemptions, which Silver continued to support. Both landlords testified at the time that they were unaware of Silver’s agreement with the law firm.

In sum, the court found Silver had received close to $4 million in illicit payments.

In 2017, Glenwood, admitted it had violated state lobbying laws in connection to its relationship with Silver. It paid a $200,000 fine to the state’s Joint Committee on Public Ethics. Glenwood was not charged with wrongdoing in the Silver trial.

The former speaker now faces resentencing by trial judge Valerie E. Caproni of Federal District Court in Manhattan. [NYT] — David Jeans