Ex-Assembly Speaker Trial

Silver

NEW YORK — Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver can stay out of prison while his public corruption conviction is appealed, a court said Thursday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a one-page order extending bail, a day after a three-judge panel, hearing oral arguments, seemed skeptical of aspects of the government's case against him.

Without the order, Silver would have been required to report to prison next week to begin serving a seven-year prison sentence.

The 75-year-old Democrat was sentenced last year after he was charged with collecting nearly $4 million in fees to help a cancer researcher and real estate developers.

Attorney Meir Feder, representing Silver, declined comment Thursday. Prosecutors who had opposed the bail extension also declined through a spokesman to comment.

Silver's first conviction in 2015 was overturned by the 2nd Circuit, which cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that narrowed public corruption law as it reversed the conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Silver, who served in the Senate from 1985 to 2015 and became Senate leader in 2008, was convicted at a second trial.

First elected in 1976, Silver served as speaker for 21 years, resigning after his 2015 arrest from a seat that served lower Manhattan.

At trial, prosecutors said it was understood that Silver would take official actions politically to benefit the researcher and developers.

Two judges, though, seemed skeptical of the evidence during oral arguments.

Circuit Judge Richard C. Wesley, who served in the New York Assembly from 1982 to 1986, said some of Silver's actions did not seem unusual for politicians who need to raise money without taking actions that are illegal.

Circuit Judge Richard J. Sullivan said corruption law as defined by the Supreme Court required Silver to take specific actions in response to any corrupt deal he had made.

"This doesn't sound very specific to me," he said of actions cited by a prosecutor.

The appeals court was not likely to rule on the merits of Silver's appeal for weeks or months.

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