Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted on all seven criminal counts Monday in a corruption scheme that traded taxpayer cash and political favors for nearly $4 million in payoffs.
A Manhattan federal jury deliberated less than three days before finding the veteran lawmaker guilty of seven charges of honest-services fraud, extortion and money laundering.
Silver, 71, faces a maximum 130 years in prison for the long-running scam.
The conviction of Silver – for decades one of the three most powerful politicians in the state – was a huge victory for anti-corruption crusading Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.
”Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York,” Bharara said in a statement.
Jurors had appeared to be in disarray several times during deliberations, with one demanding to be taken off the panel because she said other members were hassling her over her views, and another claiming a newly discovered conflict of interest earlier Monday..
The second juror, Bronx cabbie Kenneth Graham, 69, told the judge that he only recently learned that he leases his taxi medallion from a man who “associates with Mr. Silver.” The judge refused to excuse him.
“He was guilty, and that’s all,” Graham said of Silver outside court, when asked about the verdict.
“All of [the evidence] was compelling. We come to a conclusion, and he was guilty.”
But Graham indicated that the jury struggled to come up with its verdict.
“It was hard… on the last day and the day before… There was a lot of hold-outs,” he said.
“I feel relief. Maybe I don’t feel good,” he added.
The decision cemented a stunning fall from grace that began when the Manhattan Democrat was busted in January following more than three decades as one of state’s most powerful pols.
His arrest forced Silver to resign his leadership post, but he held onto his longtime Assembly seat.
Under state law, Silver’s conviction automatically boots him from office and bars him from ever again holding any state position.
Monday’s verdict came midway through the corruption trial of Silver’s onetime counterpart in the state Senate, former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who’s charged in an unrelated influence-peddling scheme along with his son, Adam.
During Silver’s 3½-week trial, prosecutors presented an array of evidence that included testimony from co-conspirators who turned rat to avoid getting charged in the case.
Columbia University cancer doctor Robert Taub – who got $500,000 in taxpayer-funded research grants from Silver – testified that he steered dozens of asbestos victims to Silver for legal representation by the Weitz & Luxenberg law firm.
Silver, who was “of counsel” at Weitz & Luxenberg at the time, pocketed more than $3 million for delivering the clients.
Veteran Albany lobbyist Brian Meara also testified that he set up a meeting between Silver and an exec at the Glenwood Management development company, which hired another law firm with ties to Silver to handle its lucrative property tax litigation.
Silver – who changed his position on legislation extending real estate tax abatements and blocking stricter rent regulations – got more than $700,000 from the firm of Goldberg & Iryami, with Meara testifying that he was both “surprised and concerned” when Silver revealed the fee-splitting arrangement.
During closing arguments, prosecutor Andrew Goldstein told jurors that Silver was motivated by greed: “This was bribery. This was extortion. This was corruption – the real deal. Don’t let it stand.”
Goldstein also blasted as “preposterous” Silver’s claim that his actions were merely “politics as usual in Albany.”
Defense lawyer Steven Molo insisted that Silver had never engaged in the sort of “quid pro quo” that’s legally required to sustain a conviction for honest-services fraud.
Molo also accused prosecutors of viewing Silver through a “dirty window,” adding that they had “failed to demonstrate that any harm has occurred.”