Former New York congressman Sheldon Silver convicted on corruption charges dies

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver leaves federal court after a sentencing hearing after his conviction on federal corruption charges in Manhattan, New York, U.S., July 27, 2018.REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) – Sheldon Silver, the once powerful New York State Assembly speaker who was jailed for six-and-a-half years on corruption charges, has died at the age of 77.

Silver died at a federal prison medical facility while serving a sentence in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, his former chief of staff, Judy Rappfogel, told the outlet.

Despite ill health, Silver began serving his sentence in August 2020. He has appealed parts of his 2018 conviction, which was upheld in January 2020 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan.

In January last year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Silver’s appeal of his conviction on corruption charges.

Silver, a Democrat, is accused of accepting nearly $4 million in illegal payments in exchange for official action in two separate programs.

Prosecutors have said Silver arranged for state grants to a cancer researcher who referred mesothelioma patients to his law firm and supported the transfer of operations to two properties in another law firm The developer’s rent regulation benefits.

Silver represents Manhattan’s Lower East Side and was the Speaker of the Assembly from 1994 to 2015. Along with former Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Republican former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Silver is one of a “three men” with the power to effectively shape New York’s legislative priorities.

Sources told Reuters in January last year that former U.S. President Donald Trump had considered clemency for Silver.

Silver was originally convicted in 2015 and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The Second Circuit vacated the conviction in 2017, citing a 2016 Supreme Court narrowing of the definition of corruption in public officials in a case involving Republican former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

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