Ex-N.Y. Assembly Speaker Silver sentenced to seven years in prison

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to seven years in prison on Friday by a federal judge in Manhattan after he was convicted for the second time of corruption charges in May.

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arrives at federal court for his sentencing hearing following his conviction on federal corruption charges in Manhattan, New York, U.S., July 27, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The sentence, imposed by U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni, was less than the 12 years he received after his first conviction in 2015. The earlier conviction was overturned on appeal, leading to a second trial.

Before being sentenced, Silver said in court that his case had caused “great distrust” in New York’s government, for which he felt “extremely remorseful.”

“I spent my life believing in government,” he said.

Caproni said that while her sentence after the first trial had been too harsh, it was important to punish public corruption. The judge noted that Silver was one of a series of state officials recently convicted of corruption, including a former Senate leader and an aide to the governor.

“This has to stop,” she said. “New York state has to do something institutionally.”

Silver, 74, was found guilty of directing state money to a prominent cancer researcher and supporting a real estate developer’s interests on rent legislation in exchange for about $4 million in bribes and kickbacks.

A Democrat, Silver represented Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the state Assembly, and was Assembly speaker from 1994 to 2015.

New York State Senate majority leader Dean Skelos, a Republican, and his son Adam were also charged and convicted of corruption in December 2015, but their convictions were overturned for similar reasons as Silver’s. They were tried again and found guilty earlier this month.

Others charged with corruption in federal court in Manhattan in recent years include Joseph Percoco, a former aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Alain Kaloyeros, a former president of the State University of New York’s Polytechnic Institute. Percoco was convicted in March, and Kaloyeros was convicted earlier this month.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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