By Kanishka Singh
– Sheldon Silver, the once-powerful New York State Assembly Speaker who was convicted on corruption charges that resulted in a prison sentence of six and a half years, has died aged 77.
Silver died at a federal prison medical facility while serving out his sentence in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, his former chief of staff Judy Rapfogel told the media.
Silver began serving his sentence in August 2020 despite being in poor health. He had appealed the portions of his 2018 conviction that were upheld in January 2020 by the Manhattan-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In January last year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by Silver of his conviction on the corruption charges.
Silver, a Democrat, was accused of accepting close to $4 million in illegal payments in exchange for taking official actions in two separate schemes.
Prosecutors had said Silver arranged for state grants to go to a cancer researcher who referred mesothelioma patients to his law firm, and supported rent-regulation interests of two real estate developers that sent business to another law firm.
Silver represented Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and served as Assembly speaker from 1994 to 2015. Along with former Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and Republican former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Silver was one of the “three men in a room” with effective power to shape New York legislative priorities.
Former U.S. President Donald Trump had considered granting clemency to Silver, sources told Reuters in January last year.
Silver was originally convicted in 2015 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The 2nd Circuit voided that conviction in 2017, citing a 2016 Supreme Court decision narrowing the definition of corruption by public officials in a case involving Republican former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Porter)