It really shouldn’t have come as all that much of a shock, but the New York political world seemed to be turned on its ear yesterday when former assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was brought in guilty by a jury of his peers on each and every count in his corruption trial. (New York Post)
Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted Monday in a $5 million public-corruption case, cementing a stunning fall from power that exposed Albany’s sleazy culture of influence-peddling — and showed that it reached to the top.
On its third day of rocky deliberations, a Manhattan federal jury handed down guilty verdicts on all seven counts against Silver, despite two jurors threatening to throw the trial into turmoil by demanding to be excused.
Silver, a 71-year-old veteran lawmaker who was once one of the most powerful politicians in the state, was found guilty of honest-services fraud, extortion and money-laundering for trading political favors to enrich himself and then lying about it.
We’ve been covering the charges against Silver and his fall from … for lack of a better word, I’ll say “grace?” since news of the scandal broke. Silver isn’t the first official to go down in US Attorney Preet Bharara’s quest to clean up what he once famously called a cauldron of corruption in Empire State government, and he likely won’t be the last. (As a side note, this is the same Preet Bharara we discussed the other day over his seeming lack of curiosity in prosecuting Chevron Shakedown artist Steven Donziger. At least we know what he’s been busy with.) Preet already took down Dean Skelos, one of the top Republicans in the state government and several other key players.
Silver is looking at up to 130 years in jail at the maximum, but the prosecutors have indicated that they’ll likely only be looking for 20 years at sentencing. Already not in the best of health, that would still amount to essentially a death sentence for the 71 year old Democrat were he to serve the full term. (Also unlikely in my opinion.)
But as I said above, Bharara’s net probably isn’t empty yet. Silver had so many ties to politicians from the local to the national level that it could take decades to sort them all out. At the top end of the scale, and perhaps of greater interest to the audience, is Hillary Clinton, who has more than a few political donors in common with Silver. She’s also on record talking about what a swell guy he was, as Grabien quickly noted last night. They cite one stage appearance where the Democrat frontrunner described Silver as a stalwart voice for New Yorkers.
Hillary is also one of the many candidates (including Silver and Skelos) who are tied up with a web of New York real estate interests who have been pouring money into both state and federal politics. Chief among these is Glenwood Management, who not only flushed a ton of cash toward Sheldon Silver, but has reportedly drawn New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo into the investigation. None of that will be shocking when you consider that Glenwood dumped more than $3.6M into political donations in a four year period, with $1.45M of that going to Cuomo alone.
Silver proudly proclaimed to the press that he would be “vindicated” when this entire investigation began. His predictions seem to have been a bit off the mark, and now “the bad times” begin, to borrow a line from Goodfellas. Adios, Mr. Speaker.