MANHATTAN (CN) - After days of deliberations, a federal jury convicted New York Assemblyman Sheldon Silver on Monday of seven counts of fraud, extortion and money laundering.
Silver remained in office throughout the three-week trial, but ended his 21-year run as speaker back in February after he was indicted. His convictions automatically oust him from office.
In a terse statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said, "Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York."
The prosecution painted Silver as the beneficiary of two lengthy conspiracies, one of which involved what amounted to a no-show position at the storied asbestos-litigation firm Weitz & Luxenberg.
Prosecutors said 71-year-old Silver collected nearly $4 million from Weitz & Luxenberg by steering clients to the firm referred by a Columbia University physician whose research Silver greased with state grant money.
Silver never denied helping Columbia University doctor Robert Taub secure state research grants for mesothelioma. The Democratic legislator also admitted receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars for referring major clients to the firm Goldberg & Iryami, including heavy-hitting real estate developer Glenwood Management, whose lobbyists aggressively pushed Silver's office for favorable legislation in Albany.
Despite conceding the basic facts of the case, Silver's lawyers argued that the New York state constitution lets legislators collect outside income through a system that bred inevitable - but, they contended, legal - conflicts of interest.
Jurors quickly rejected that argument, finding Silver guilty on all counts on the third day of deliberations.
Before reading their verdict, they made no eye contact with the ex-Assemblyman, who displayed little emotion about the result.
Silver's attorney Steven Molo from the firm MoloLamken vowed to appeal.
"We're obviously disappointed by the verdict, and we intend to file vigorous post-trial motions to set it aside," he told reporters in court immediately following the verdict.
U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni set an early January date for the defense to file those documents, but she has not yet set a sentencing date.
Silver could theoretically face 130 years in prison under his counts of conviction, but his actual sentence is expected to be far lower.
The closely-watched trial drew throngs of reporters, who waited outside the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse for more than an hour for the former assemblyman to exit.
At roughly 6 p.m., Silver finally emerged from the building, but he had little to say. He briefly expressed his disappointment with the verdict before parting a sea of reporters to get to his vehicle.
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