High-powered former N.Y. lawmaker guilty on fraud, extortion, money laundering charges

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver arrives to the courthouse in New York, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. Jury deliberations have begun in the trial of Silver. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who led the Assembly for 20 years, is accused of taking more than $4 million in bribes and kickbacks. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

One of New York’s most influential and longest-serving former politicians was convicted Monday on several federal corruption charges that said he was involved in a scheme to trade taxpayer dollars and political favors for personal financial gain.

Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was found guilty on seven counts that included fraud, extortion and money laundering.

Silver was forced to resign his leadership post upon his arrest in January. Now convicted, by law he can not return to the state assembly.

Silver, 71, was first elected to state office in 1977, when he served as an assembly representative. In 1994, he became assembly speaker — considered the third most powerful position in New York.

On Jan. 22, Silver was arrested after investigators began looking into his personal income and found recurring payments from a law firm that was the government’s single-largest political donor. Officials said Silver did not properly disclose the income he received from the firm.

Eight days later, Silver resigned his position as Assembly Speaker but he’s kept his assembly seat — something Monday’s verdict has now forced him out of, in accordance with state law.

Jurors took three days to deliberate the case.

“He was guilty, and that’s all,” juror Kenneth Graham said outside the courthouse after the verdict.

“Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Bharara has repeatedly criticized the state assembly in recent months.

“The ‘show-me-the-money’ culture of Albany has been perpetuated and promoted at the very top of the political food chain,” Bharara said earlier this year.

Silver faces up to 130 years in prison for the conviction.

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