Former New York State Assembly Speaker’s Conviction Overturned

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The former speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, had his 2015 conviction on corruption charges overturned by a federal appellate court.

Silver was found guilty of fraud, extortion and money laundering for allegedly taking nearly $4 million in illicit payments in return for official actions that benefited others; he was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2016.

In vacating Mr. Silver’s conviction, the appellate court cited a United States Supreme Court ruling last year involving Bob McDonnell, a former Republican governor of Virginia, that narrowed the definition of the kind of official conduct that can serve as the basis of a corruption prosecution.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan concluded, in light of the Supreme Court’s narrower definition, that the jury instructions given by the judge in Mr. Silver’s trial were erroneous and that a properly instructed jury might not have convicted him.

Although his conviction was overturned, Silver may be retried by prosecutors.

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