Ex-NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver ordered back to prison after brief furlough

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will be returned to federal prison after federal authorities denied him home confinement.

Silver was released Tuesday on furlough while he awaited the decision.

The 77-year-old has served less than one year of a 6 1/2-year sentence and was being held at FCI Otisville in Orange County. He began serving his sentence in August after years of fending off going behind bars in a corruption case.

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The federal Bureau of Prisons didn't provide details or a reason for the transfer, but Congress gave the Justice Department expanded powers during the coronavirus pandemic to release inmates on furlough and home confinement to prevent them from catching the virus behind bars.

In January, the Justice Department issued a memo that said the Bureau of Prisons may have to return some inmates serving extended terms of home confinement to prison once the coronavirus emergency period that was established by Congress expires.

Silver, a Democrat, was ousted as speaker in 2015 and convicted later that year, but appeals had kept him out of prison.

His conviction in federal court in Manhattan was overturned on appeal before he was convicted again in 2018. He has a projected release date from federal custody in 2026.

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Part of that conviction was then tossed out on another appeal, leading to yet another sentencing in July when he asked a judge not to let him die in prison.

His lawyers had sought a term of home confinement, arguing that sending him to prison would worsen existing health issues or risk having him die from the coronavirus.

New York GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy previously blasted the decision to allow Silver out of prison.

"The early release of Sheldon Silver is a gross miscarriage of justice and slap in the face to every New Yorker," he said. "He abused his power to personally profit to the tune of $4 million -- ironically the same amount Governor Cuomo made on his corrupt book deal. New Yorkers need to send a message that they are fed up with corrupt politicians escaping accountability while taxpayers are left holding the bag."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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