May 11, 2018 / 9:17 PM / 3 months ago

Ex-New York Assembly Speaker Silver found guilty in second corruption trial

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was found guilty of corruption charges on Friday by a jury in Manhattan federal court after an appeals court threw out an earlier conviction.

FILE PHOTO: Former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver exits the Manhattan U.S. District Courthouse in New York City, U.S., May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

Silver, 74, was charged with 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.

Silver was found guilty of all seven counts against him, including honest services fraud and extortion. The jury handed down its verdict at the end of its first full day of deliberations.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan said in a statement that Silver “took an oath to act in the best interests of the people of New York State.”

“As a unanimous jury found, he sold his public office for private greed,” Berman said.

A lawyer for Silver could not immediately be reached for comment.

Silver was convicted for the first time in November 2015. In May 2016, Caproni sentenced him to 12 years in prison.

Last July, however, a New York federal appeals court threw out the conviction. The court ruled that the jury had received improper instructions in light of the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision overturning the corruption conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

The Supreme Court found in that decision that routine political activities such as arranging meetings or reaching out to public officials were not “official acts” that could be prosecuted under federal bribery law.

Silver, a Democrat, represented Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and was Assembly speaker from 1994 to 2015.

Along with Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, he was one of the few people with effective power to dictate New York legislative priorities.

Skelos was convicted of corruption charges in December 2015 and sentenced to five years in prison. His conviction was overturned last year as well, for similar reasons as Silver’s, and prosecutors have said they would try him again.

Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Tom Brown

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