One of the most powerful politicians for a generation in New York State, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, is free for now after a federal appeals court vacated his conviction on seven bribery charges two years ago.
It means that Silver’s 12 year jail term is wiped out. However, because Silver was not acquitted by the federal Second Circuit, and only had the conviction vacated, he faces retrial on the original charges.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan already have said they expect to retry the case. It remains to be seen, however, what the Trump Administration’s Justice Department will do.
The Silver prosecution was undertaken by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired earlier this year and ever since has been publicly critical of the Trump Administration.
The appeals court vacated the conviction because the panel of judges found the jury instructions were incorrect and covered “lawful behavior.” The panel cited the recent Supreme Court reversal of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell where it narrowed the definition of “official action.”
Silver represented Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the New York State Assembly for nearly 40 years.