Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver lost his final bid to fend off jail time on Monday after a judge sentenced him to 78 months in prison in a courtroom saga that has spanned almost five years.
Lawyers for Silver – once one of New York’s most powerful politicians – asked Judge Valerie E. Caproni of the Federal District Court in Manhattan to allow the former lawmaker to serve his term in home confinement, citing Silver’s history of cancer and chronic kidney disease and fears that he might die from the coronavirus while incarcerated.
Caproni, however, was unconvinced – saying that Silver “acted out of a sense of greed” and that it was inappropriate for him to not serve time in prison.
Silver was originally convicted in November 2015 on charges that he traded favors to earn $5 million illegally and then lied about it.
The Manhattan federal court jury returned the verdict after a three-week trial in which prosecutors claimed that the former Democratic assemblyman repeatedly promised the favors to enrich himself. The defense countered that the government was trying to criminalize the longtime routines of politics in Albany.
Caproni – who oversaw both Silver’s trial and original sentencing – ordered Silver locked up for 12 years during sentencing in 2016. Silver was allowed to remain free on bond and that conviction was overturned in 2017.
Silver was then retried and convicted again in 2018 on corruption charges, this time receiving a seven-year sentence. The New York Democrat, however, had part of that conviction overturned by an appeals court.
Silver did not escape convictions on charges stemming from a real estate scheme and a separate money laundering count.
While Caproni sentenced him to 78 months in prison, federal prosecutors were hoping for more and said that a 10 year sentence would be more appropriate.
“He abused his office,” prosecutor, Daniel C. Richenthal, said on Monday, according to the New York Times. “He did it for profit, he did it for at least 15 years, he did it in multiple ways and he lied about it for years.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.