Sheldon Silver’s many prison sentences

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver leaves U.S. District Court after he was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison on July 20, 2020.
Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver leaves U.S. District Court after he was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison on July 20, 2020.
John Minchillo/AP/Shutterstock
Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver leaves U.S. District Court after he was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison on July 20, 2020.

Sheldon Silver’s many prison sentences

After years of dodging federal prison, the former New York Assembly Speaker gets yet another sentence for corruption.
July 20, 2020

You probably felt an unbelievable sense of déjà vu when you read that former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to a six-and-a-half-year prison sentence for corruption, on Monday. Haven’t you read that, or something a lot like it, before? You have, but this is a brand-new sentence.

Silver’s legal representation attempted to delay his prison sentence once again due to health concerns stemming from the current public health crisis, asking that he be allowed to serve the beginning of his sentence at home. Judge Valerie E. Caproni, who presided over Silver’s case dismissed the request. “Mr. Silver, his time has come,” Caproni said at Silver’s sentencing. “He needs to go to jail.”

In 2015, Silver was first convicted of obtaining $4 million in payments by using his position of power as Assembly speaker to take official actions on behalf of Columbia University cancer researcher Robert Taub and two real estate developers. Since then, Silver has been able to dodge all attempts to send him to prison, until now – we think. Here’s a timeline of all the times that Silver has been convicted and sentenced to prison over the past few years:

2015: Silver is convicted of corruption

While still in office, Silver was convicted on seven counts of corruption, including honest services fraud, money laundering and extortion, for his part in two separate schemes for which his involvement earned him $4 million. Upon his conviction, Silver was forced to leave his post as speaker, one that he had held for 40 years.

2016: Silver sentenced to 12 years in federal prison

A year after his conviction, Silver was sentenced to 12 years in a federal prison. He was also told he must forfeit $5.3 million and pay a $1.75 million fine. 

2017: Silver’s conviction is overturned in an appeal

The former speaker’s conviction was overturned after a federal appeals court found that when giving the jury instructions, the trial judge’s definition of an “official action” was too broad. 

“We recognize that many would view the facts adduced at Silver’s trial with distaste,” Judge José A. Cabranes, part of the three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan that overturned Silver’s conviction, acknowledged in the decision

Federal prosecutors promised to retry Silver.

2018: Silver gets sentenced to seven years in prison

Just one year after his appeal, Silver was sentenced to prison for seven years on charges of federal corruption and was again given a $1.75 million fine. Silver was given a slightly shorter sentence, as the original one was deemed “longer than necessary to accomplish the goals of sentencing,” according to the presiding judge.

2020: Silver gets sentenced to six and a half years in prison

After Silver was allowed to remain free while his case was being appealed again, he was finally forced to pay the piper on July, 20, 2020. The 76-year-old is expected to surrender to federal authorities by Aug. 26, to begin serving out his six-and-a-half-year sentence. Silver will also be forced to pay a $1 million fine. 

Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
Amanda Luz Henning Santiago
is City & State's web reporter and social media editor.
20200805