Sheldon Silver, Disgraced Assembly Speaker from LES, Dies at 77

Posted on: January 25th, 2022 at 5:10 am by

Sheldon Silver, June 2010

Sheldon Silver, the disgraced powerhouse of the New York State Assembly, and native Lower East Sider, whose career was toppled by a 2015 corruption conviction, died yesterday. He was 77.

According to the New York Times, Silver, who maintained a residence at Hillman Houses, had been imprisoned at Devens Federal Medical Center in Ayer, Massachusetts. Kristie Breshears, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Prisons, told the paper in a statement that Silver had died at the nearby Nashoba Valley Medical Center.

While exact cause of death is not yet known, Silver reportedly had a history of cancer and chronic kidney disease.

Silver was one of the most powerful men in State government for two decades – and was revered by many on the Lower East Side – until the conviction.

From the Times obituary:

Soft-spoken and sphinxian in his public statements and Capitol-corridor interviews, Mr. Silver nonetheless wielded outsize influence, capable of pushing liberal causes like raising the minimum wage and building affordable housing. At the same time, he was also capable of thwarting priorities of mayors and governors — he served alongside six, from Hugh L. Carey to Andrew M. Cuomo — when he cared to, including such flashy proposals as a stadium on the West Side of Manhattan.

That dominance came tumbling down in early 2015 when Mr. Silver was accused of accepting nearly $4 million in illicit payments in exchange for taking official actions for a cancer researcher at Columbia University and two real estate developers.

Found guilty of federal corruption charges in late 2015, Mr. Silver managed to successfully challenge that conviction, resulting in its being overturned in 2017. A second trial — and a second conviction — followed in 2018. Mr. Silver managed to avoid prison until 2020, when his legal machinations finally ground to a halt, leaving him to serve a six-and-a-half-year sentence.

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