In the News: Sheldon Silver gets mixed bag in appeal decision

Former local Assemblyman Sheldon Silver (Yuh-Line Niou now has his seat) split the difference in his appeals case, with three of his seven convictions dismissed and four upheld. What stuck was two counts of fraud and one count of extortion tied to a real estate scheme. The judge’s comments make it sound like contributions to politicians may be unethical, but not criminal.

“While some may find political contributions a corrupting influence in American politics, those moral judgments do not define criminal liability,” the court wrote. (Thanks to G. for sending the story from Law360.)

The Post, of course, weighed in on the fact that Silver has yet to serve time. He was convicted in 2018 with a sentence of seven years for extortion and money laundering.

The Second Circuit therefore upheld Silver’s conviction on two counts of fraud and one count of extortion tied to the real estate scheme. The court also upheld Silver’s money laundering conviction.

Law360 (January 21, 2020, 12:00 PM EST) — The Second Circuit dismissed three of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s seven convictions on Tuesday in a ruling that could further limit how prosecutors pursue unsavory dealings among lawmakers.

Silver was convicted in May 2018 on charges of fraud, extortion and money laundering over what prosecutors described as two influence-peddling schemes while he was in office. The retrial came after the Second Circuit had once reversed Silver’s convictions, saying the jury instructions in the first trial fell short of the Supreme Court’s holding in McDonnell v. U.S.

On Tuesday, the Second Circuit found that the jury had not been properly instructed at the retrial, an error that could have affected the outcome on three counts dealing with Silver’s alleged scheme to take bribes from a mesothelioma researcher.