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Conviction of Ex-New York Assembly Speaker Is Tossed

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By    |   Thursday, 13 Jul 2017 10:36 AM

Sheldon Silver, the former New York State Assembly Speaker found guilty of corruption charges in 2015, has won an appeal in federal court to overturn the conviction.

Silver was found guilty of federal corruption charges in November, 2015, including extortion, honest services fraud and money laundering, according to The New York Times. 

He was forced to vacate the Assembly seat he'd held for almost 40 years, and sentenced to 12 years in federal prison.

In their ruling, the Second Circuit Appeals Court cited the case of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, whose corruption conviction was vacated once the U.S. Supreme Court redefined "official action."

Circuit Judge Jose Cabranes wrote in the decision that, "given the teachings of the Supreme Court in McDonnell, and the particular circumstances of this case, we simply cannot reach that conclusion."

In Silver's case, the court found that jurors were given an "overbroad" definition of "official action," and that if they'd been properly informed, the jury might not have convicted Silver.

"Like the improper instruction in McDonnell, the plain language of the instruction at Silver's trial captured lawful conduct, such as arranging meetings or hosting events with constituents," wrote Cabranes.

"We cannot conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a rational jury would have found Silver guilty if it had been properly instructed on the definition of an official act."

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim announced Thursday shortly after the release of the decision that prosecutors will retry Silver on corruption charges.

"While we are disappointed by the Second Circuit's decision, we respect it, and look forward to retrying the case," Kim said in a statement. 

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Sheldon Silver, the former New York State Assembly Speaker found guilty of corruption charges in 2015, has won an appeal in federal court to overturn the conviction.
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2017-36-13
Thursday, 13 Jul 2017 10:36 AM
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