Sheldon Silver, the former leader of the New York State Assembly whose career was were undone by a 2015 corruption conviction, died on Monday at 77. Silver had been incarcerated at Devens Federal Medical Center in Ayer, Ma. Silver had a history of cancer and chronic kidney disease. A Lower Manhattan East Side Democrat whose rise to power began with his election in 1976, Silver controlled the Assembly — and its dominant Democratic majority — as its speaker for two decades, from 1994 to 2015, the New York Times reports. Silver backed liberal causes like raising the minimum wage and building affordable housing and thwarted some priorities of mayors and governors.
In 2015, 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 Silver managed to have his conviction overturned in 2017. A second trial — and a second conviction — followed in 2018. Silver managed to avoid prison until 2020, when his legal maneuvers finally ended, leaving him to serve a six-and-a-half-year sentence. Silver won a brief reprieve from prison life last spring when he was furloughed because of the coronavirus pandemic. After a public outcry, he was returned to prison two days later.