Sheldon Silver, former N.Y. Assembly speaker, sentenced to prison

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver exits federal court in Lower Manhattan on May 3 in New York City.

Story highlights

  • Silver must also pay a $1.75 million fine and forfeit $5.3 million
  • He was accused of using his position to gain millions in bribes and kickbacks

(CNN)Sheldon Silver's long and prominent career in New York state politics came to an end Tuesday when he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for fraud and extortion.

Manhattan Federal Court Judge Valerie E. Caproni, who issued the sentence, also ordered Silver to pay a $1.75 million fine and forfeit $5.3 million, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.
    Silver, 72, spent two decades as speaker of the State Assembly until his arrest in January 2015. He was accused of using his power as a politician to gain nearly $4 million through bribes and kickbacks, according to a criminal complaint issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
    Federal authorities said Silver, who represented Lower Manhattan, masked kickbacks from real estate developers and medical referral fees by disguising the money as income from what he claimed was a personal injury law practice, according to the complaint.
    "Today's stiff sentence is a just and fitting end to Sheldon Silver's long career of corruption," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Tuesday.
    Silver's lawyer said their team will appeal the sentence.
    "We are disappointed, but we respect the judge's decision and we will pursue our legal remedies: an appeal," Joel Cohen told CNN in a statement.
    A jury found Silver guilty in November of two counts of honest services wire fraud, two counts of honest services mail fraud, two counts of extortion under color of official right and one count of engaging in illegal monetary transactions.
    Following the sentencing, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the judge's decision "sent a simple message that officials who abuse the public's trust will be held accountable. Justice was served."
    Silver was an example of the "show-me-the-money culture" in the state capital of Albany, Bharara said when Silver was arrested in January 2015.
    "These charges go to the very core of what ails Albany -- a lack of transparency, lack of accountability, and lack of principle joined with an overabundance of greed, cronyism and self-dealing," Bharara said at the time.