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Update: Appeals Court Overturns Former Speaker Sheldon Silver’s Conviction

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(Update, July 17) – A federal appeals court has overturned former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s 2015 conviction for corruption.

Silver, 73, had been convicted on seven charges of corruption, including accepting over $4 million in bribes and kickbacks, on Nov. 30, 2015.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the crimes.

The appeals court reportedly found the judge’s instructions to the jury in the case had been too broad, and said, had the jury been properly instructed, jurors might not have convicted Silver of the charges.

“We recognize that many would view the facts adduced at Silver’s trial with distaste,” Judge José A. Cabranes wrote in the three-judge panel’s decision. “The question presented to us, however, is not how a jury would likely view the evidence presented by the government. Rather, it is whether it is clear, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a rational jury, properly instructed, would have found Silver guilty.”

However, despite the court’s decision, the panel also found that evidence in the case had been legally sufficient to support a conviction.

As a result, federal prosecutors have said they plan to retry the case.

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(From May 3, 2016) – Sheldon Silver, former Democratic speaker of the New York State Assembly, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for corruption May 3.

Silver, 72, was convicted on seven charges of corruption, including accepting over $4 million in bribes and kickbacks, on Nov. 30, 2015.

“Today’s stiff sentence is a just and fitting end to Sheldon Silver’s long career of corruption,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the U.S attorney whose office prosecuted the case, stated after the sentencing.

Although Silver’s lawyers pleaded for leniency in the case, Manhattan federal Judge Valerie Caproni said Silver’s actions ended up “corroding trust in government,” and, in addition to the 12-year sentence, Caproni also ordered Silver to repay $5 million in proceeds from his crimes, as well as $1.75 million in fines.

“I hope the sentence I impose on you will make the next politician hesitate before accepting a kickback or bribe,” Caproni stated.

Silver must surrender himself to begin serving the sentence by July 1.

“Without question I’ve let down my family, my colleagues, my constituency,” he said in brief remarks following his sentencing. “I’m truly, truly sorry.”

However, prior to receiving the sentence, Silver said he planned to appeal.

“It’s just the next step,” he said to reporters. “You have to go through this before you can appeal.”

Silver has been among several New York politicians to face corruption and investigation charges recently.

Former Republican State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos will also be sentenced on corruption charges this month, along with his son, Adam.

Prior to his conviction, Silver had served as speaker of the Assembly for over two decades.

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