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Corruption Conviction Overturned for Ex-NY Assembly Speaker

14 July 2017, 12:45 | Lucy Hill

Breaking: Appeals Court Overturns Sheldon Silver's Conviction on Corruption Charges

Conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver overturned

In May 2016, a Manhattan federal court sentenced him to 12 years in prison for corruption.

What the court pointedly did not say, however, is that Silver didn't do the things that the evidence clearly proved.

In their view, this is not justice denied, and it will only be a matter of time until Silver - "one of the most powerful politicians in New York State history" - gets a just punishment. Federal prosecutors could decide to retry the case. Silver's lawyers argued in their appeal that in presenting its case the government had also failed to trace "dirty" funds that were comingled with "clean" funds. That decision rested on how the judge had defined what is an "official act", when giving instructions to the jury. United States that reversed the corruption conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

"While the facts of Skelos, Silver and McDonnell really have nearly nothing to do with each other, the legal question is common to all", said Kuby, who did not work on the case but is familiar with it. "The question presented to us, however, is not how a jury would likely view the evidence presented by the government".

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Joon Kim, acting US Attorney for the Southern District of NY, said in a statement that he would retry the case, noting the appellate court found that evidence presented at trial was sufficient to prove the crimes against Silver, even under a new legal standard.

Joon H. Kim, the Acting U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of NY, said in a statement that prosecutors were "disappointed" in the decision, but "look forward to retrying the case".

Silver's and Dean Skelos' convictions were among the biggest prosecutions by Kim's predecessor, Preet Bharara, who made fighting public corruption a priority. Overturning Mr. Silver's conviction based on the Judge's instructions to the jury, which occurred before the McDonnell ruling, does not redefine the facts in evidence. "Silver's receipt of benefits connected to his official position", said David Siegal, a partner at Haynes and Boone, but "I don't think the evidence is a slam-dunk either way on retrial". Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), whose trial is scheduled to begin in September.

"It is not a statement that Silver did not break the law", Kramer said. "It remains to be seen whether he wins the war".

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