Conviction of former New York State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver is overturned

Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted of federal corruption charges in 2015
Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted of federal corruption charges in 2015
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14 July, 2017

The problem, the court said, was that the trial judge's instructions to the jury fell short of the standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court previous year - long after Silver's trial - when it reversed the conviction of former Virginia Gov. The ruling clarified how juries should be instructed to view "an official act" in a federal bribery case.

Indeed, justices on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit formally acknowledged that evidence of extortion and honest services fraud against Silver was sufficient to prove his guilt.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Manhattan concluded, in light of the Supreme Court's narrower definition, that the jury instructions given by the judge in Silver's trial were erroneous and that a properly instructed jury might not have convicted him. On May 3, 2016, federal judge Valerie E. Caproni of the United States District Court for the Southern District of NY sentenced Silver to 12 years in jail, and ordered him to pay $5.3 million in ill-gotten gains and $1.75 million in additional fines.

"There's no question that the government presented evidence relating to Mr". In their view, this is not justice denied, and it will only be a matter of time until Silver - "one of the most powerful politicians in New York State history" - gets a just punishment. Prosecutors decided not to try that case last September.

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Prosecutors may retry Silver, a 73-year-old Democrat from Manhattan who served more than two decades as Assembly speaker.

A properly instructed jury may not have convicted Silver, the court said.

Ex-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was convicted for allegedly pocketing $175,000 in gifts and loans from a businessman - and then setting up meetings for him. The Skelos' and Silver have all been free on bail pending the outcome of their appeals.

"We are grateful the court saw it our way and reversed the conviction on all counts", Silver's attorneys, Steven Molo and Joel Cohen, said in a statement. Silver is accused of using his political position to gain over $4 million in illegal kickbacks and bribery payments in schemes involving cancer patients and two major real estate firms. And Silver, analysts said, might have similar trouble. "Sheldon Silver is absolutely guilty of corrupting his office and violating the public trust of 19 million New Yorkers". In fact, they rejected every attempt by Silver's legal team to contest the quality of the dirty deeds prosecutors aired during his five-week trial.


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