Outrageous: Shelly Silver, one of the worst abusers of the public trust in recent New York history, just got his 2015 conviction tossed on technical grounds.
Prosecutors promise a new trial, but justice has already been delayed far too long here.
A federal appeals court Thursday tossed the former Assembly speaker’s 2015 corruption conviction because a later Supreme Court ruling tweaked the rules for what counts as political corruption.
Yet the same 2nd Circuit of Appeals had just affirmed the bribery conviction of ex-Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. despite similar issues.
And the evidence against Silver proves corruption under the new rules as well as the old.
- The then-speaker funneled some $500,000 in state grants to a doctor who, in turn, sent patients to Silver’s law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg — which then paid Silver for the referrals.
- In another scheme, Silver voted to OK tax-exempt financing for a real-estate developer, Glenwood Management, and for favorable rent- and tax-abatement laws. In exchange, Glenwood took some work to the firm of another Silver pal, which in turn paid “fees” to the speaker.
Silver pocketed at least $4 million from these kickbacks.
At trial, his defense boiled down to “everybody does it.” But while the Legislature is indeed profoundly corrupt, that doesn’t make any of it legal.
And certainly not these abuses of power by a man who ruled as speaker for more than two decades.
Yes, the Supreme Court last year tossed the corruption conviction of ex-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell over too-broad instructions to the jury about what defines “official acts.” But Silver’s case involved far more clear-cut bribes — and more clear-cut abuse of power — than McDonnell’s.
Yet somehow the 2nd Circuit thinks a “rational jury” might not have found Silver guilty if it had been “properly instructed.”
Let’s hope prosecutors move quickly to a new trial. The best medicine for New York’s rampant corruption is swift, harsh punishment for the abusers. And Silver, 73, has already been free for far too long.