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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Thursday, August 24, 2017

A federal judge was asked by prosecutors to schedule a date in the spring for the retrial of former-New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

In a formal letter, the government requested that a Manhattan judge set a trial for this coming March, April or May, citing that a fast retrial would be in the best interest of the public. The trial is predicted to go on for about a month. 

According to CBS, “The request comes a day after the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to let Silver’s lawyers ask the U.S. Supreme Court to look at the case. The Supreme Court turns down most requests. Prosecutors have said a defense request of the Supreme Court should not delay any retrial, especially since a key witness is over age 80. Silver, 73, was sentenced last year to 12 years in prison after he was convicted of public corruption charges in late 2015.”

Close to $5 million was received by Silver in bribes and kickbacks from real estate developers and a cancer researcher in exchange for Silver using his position power in their favor, prosecutors allege. The funds were then laundered in private investment vehicles. According to prosecutors, he accumulated over $2 million in assets and set himself up an annual state pension of $70,000.

Last month, the 2nd Circuit overturned the conviction, citing that jurors must be instructed by the trial judge in a manner that conforms to a recent decision by the Supreme Court in which the public corruption conviction of Virginia Republican former-Governor Bob McDonnell was reversed. The definition of what an “official act” by a politician constitutes was narrowed by the high court ruling, which now makes it harder for convictions to be obtained by prosecutors in many public corruption cases. 

The lawyers representing Silver argued that it may be concluded by the Supreme Court that as a matter of law, Silver should not have to go through a retrial.

Prosecutors strongly disagree, and claim that this is merely a “delay tactic” by the defense which will likely fail. In court papers, prosecutors said, “Silver’s retrial is inevitable, regardless of the outcome of any one of his claims in the Supreme Court.”

Silver was the leader of the state Assembly from 1994 through the beginning of 2015. He was considered one of New York’s most powerful politicians, along with Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Senate leader Dean Skelos. The three state politicians, two of which have since fallen to charges of corruption, were at times called the “three men in a room.”

By Rachel Shapiro