Ex-NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver sentenced for 3rd time in corruption case

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Former New York Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced for the third time in his corruption case Monday and will spend 6 1/2 years in prison.

Silver, once one of the state's most powerful politicians, will also pay a $1 million fine following his conviction for obtaining nearly $4 million in payments in return for official actions that benefited others.

Prior to sentencing, Silver's lawyers told a federal judge they were concerned that "the press and photographers before and after appearances can resemble a rugby scrum."

But Judge Valerie Caproni declined to give the 76-year-old special access to the courthouse.

Silver was first found guilty of corruption in 2015 and was sentenced to seven years in prison but was allowed to remain free while he mounted an appeal that resulted in his conviction being overturned on a technicality.

Related: Conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver overturned

A second conviction, in 2018, was also appealed and some of the counts were dismissed

Silver's lawyers insist that the money their client received was not the result of bribes.

Related: 2nd trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver set to begin Monday

Silver appeared in the courtroom wearing a blue mask and clear plastic gloves after Judge Caproni insisted he come to court in person to hear his punishment rather than appear remotely because of concerns about exposure to the coronavirus.

In a handwritten letter to the judge, Silver, who was one of New York's most powerful politicians in his 21 years as Assembly speaker, had asked that he be spared a prison term that would cause him to die in prison.

"Your Honor, I do not want to die in prison," he wrote. "This case has been going on for more than five years, but I feel like I have aged 15 or 20 years. My fate is in your hands."

Silver said he ruined his legacy and was now angry, sad and ashamed and believed: "I am ruined."

Prosecutors had urged that he go to prison for seven years for bribery and extortion.

His lawyers, meanwhile, had asked for leniency, saying Silver was an obese man in his 70s with a history of cancer, chronic kidney disease and other health problems that make him among those most at risk of dying from COVID-19.

In the part of the case that survived the appeal process, Silver was convicted in a scheme that involved favors and business traded between two real estate developers and a law firm. Silver supported legislation that benefited the developers. The developers then referred certain tax business to a law firm that paid Silver fees.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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