Former Assemblyman Sheldon Silver has died

Sheldon Silver — known often as Shelly — who represented Fidi and Chinatown in the New York State Assembly for 39 years, has died at 77. He was known for most of those decades as a savvy power broker in Albany. But his political career ended in 2015 when he was convicted on seven counts of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering stemmed from schemes by which he obtained nearly $4 million in exchange for using his position to help benefit a cancer researcher and two real estate developers.

The Times reported that Silver was incarcerated at Devens Federal Medical Center in Ayer, Mass., and that he died at the nearby Nashoba Valley Medical Center.

Needless to say, his legacy was complicated. He was known as a progressive, championing same-sex marriage, reproductive rights, rent control laws and universal pre-K. And he often delivered for downtown. Bob Townley credits him with fighting for the neighborhood in crises.

“When I heard the news about Shelly, I hoped he was now at peace,” Townley said. “Shelly was downtown’s leader during and after September 11th and Hurricane Sandy. Assembly member Silver helped build the new downtown. However there were some who felt he betrayed the public trust. I was not one of them.”

But the corruption scandal will be the mark of his career, ultimately. There were also charges of sexual relationships with lobbyists, top aides who were arrested for rape, and more.

His 2015 conviction was overturned in 2017, but he was again found guilty of federal corruption charges in May 2018, when he began his prison sentence. He was granted a furlough last year in light of his history of cancer and kidney disease, but then was returned to prison several days later.



  1. Shelly was a tireless advocate for lower Manhattan and most effective in the wake of 9/11 and long into the future. Our community has a lot to be grateful for, for without him our recovery would look very different. Rest in peace, Shelly

  2. No loss and should have gone to jail a long time ago. As corrupt and greedy as they come. Probably never thought he’d get caught.