Monday, November 30, 2015

Former NY State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver Is Found Guilty of All Bribery and Extortion Charges

Just keep going, Preet. We need a cleanup in New York State!

Betsy Combier
Editor, Courtbeat
Sheldon Silver
Sheldon Silver Convicted in Federal Corruption Trial
By Andrew Siff and AP

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been convicted of bribery and extortion charges in a federal corruption trial that increased scrutiny of politicians in Albany, where power has long been concentrated in the hands of the Assembly speaker, the Senate president and the governor.
The jury handed down its decision Monday, less than a month after the powerful 71-year-old Democrat's trial began. 
Silver said nothing as the verdict on each count was read in the Manhattan courtroom, his head bowed slightly and a somber expression on his face. The judge polled each juror to confirm their verdict.
Silver faces up to 20 years in prsion, although that sentence is unlikely. It's expected he will appeal the verdict immediately.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement "SheldonSilver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York." 
Silver, who served as the speaker of the assembly for more than 20 years, was arrested in late January and is accused of collecting around $4 million in bribes and kickbacks since 2002, using his law license and lax New York disclosure laws to disguise the profits as referral fees.
The lawmaker quit his speaker post after his arrest but retained his Assembly seat. Neither Silver nor his attorneys could immediately be reached for comment on the verdict.
There was some drama when jury deliberations began last Tuesday when a juror claimed that other jurors accused her of failing to use her common sense, leaving her feeling "very, very uncomfortable."
"I'm feeling pressured, stressed out," the juror wrote in a note to U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan as she asked to be excused from further deliberations.
In her note, the juror said she had a different opinion and view than other jurors "and it is making me feel very, very uncomfortable."
"My heart is pounding and my head feels weird," she said. "I am so stressed out right now that I can't even write normally. I don't feel like I can be myself right now! I need to leave!"
After a prosecutor recommended she be released as a juror, the judge said it was too early to do so, and said she would urge jurors to respectfully exchange views.
"Listen to and exchange views with your other jurors," Caproni said she would tell them.
The judge said she was further convinced that patience was the best remedy when another note emerged from jurors shortly afterward. In it, the jurors asked if there was a code of conduct or ethics code that clearly stated whether receiving funds for something in return is illegal.
"It seems there is some deliberation going on," the judge told lawyers. "It's too early to throw in the towel."
In all, 31 lawmakers have been convicted of crimes or have left public service amid allegations of ethical misconduct since 2000, according to a tally kept by the good-government group Citizens Union.

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