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May 11th, 2018

Former NY Speaker Sheldon Silver Convicted of Federal Corruption Charges in Second Trial

As reported by the New York Times, Sheldon Silver, former Democratic speaker of the New York State Assembly, was found guilty of federal corruption charges on Friday, May 11, 2018, almost exactly a year after his initial conviction was thrown out.

In 2015, Silver was convicted of obtaining approximately $4 million in payments characterized as attorney referral fees solely through the corrupt use of his official position. The charges stemmed from the money Silver was paid by the state’s most prolific asbestos law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, and from another Manhattan law firm specializing in real estate tax work.

The conviction was overturned after a 2016 ruling by the United States Supreme Court narrowed activity that could constitute corruption.

ATRA has spotlighted Silver’s obvious conflicts of interest for years and has been troubled by ethics laws that are so weak they effectively enabled Silver to serve in Albany for decades as a hired gun for the plaintiffs’ bar, reliably killing any meaningful tort reform bills that could have broadly served taxpayers’ interest.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 13th; the first time around Judge Valeria Caproni imposed a 12-year sentence and a $1.75 million fine, which ATRA called “substantial and worthy of his crimes.” It is essential that the judge’s sentence helps deter the widespread corruption in Albany and the ‘double-dipping’ fraud that asbestos plaintiffs’ lawyers regularly perpetrate in the New York City Asbestos Litigation.

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