Former longtime New York State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver has been disbarred following a guilty conviction for corruption charges that could see him face an 130-year prison sentence.
Silver, convicted in federal court in November on seven corruption charges, on Tuesday officially lost his license to practice law. A state appeals court ruled the conviction was just cause for the action.
Silver, 72, who is an Orthodox Jew, was arrested in January 2015 on seven counts of honest services fraud, extortion and money laundering. He resigned his post as speaker at that time but retained his Assembly seat.
New York state attorneys are automatically disbarred when convicted of a state felony. If the federal felony is also considered a felony under state law, it triggers automatic disbarment.
“While the federal felony need not be a mirror image of the New York felony, the two crimes must be essentially similar,” the appeals court judges wrote, adding that Silver’s federal conviction was equal to a state conviction on extortion charges.
Silver is scheduled to be sentenced on April 13.
He faces a maximum sentence of 130 years in prison, although he will likely receive a sentence of less than 20 years, according to the New York Daily News.
Also Tuesday, a federal appeals court rejected Silver’s petition to keep classified the documents from an October 16 hearing, the Daily News reported. Silver had argued that the release of the documents could harm his appeal of the conviction.
One of the corrupt schemes involved Dr. Robert Taub, a friend of Silver and also an Orthodox Jew, who agreed to refer all his patients suffering from mesothelioma, a type of cancer commonly associated with asbestos exposure, to Silver’s law firm.
The deal netted Silver over $3 million in referral fees and injury claims. In return, he gave Taub $500,000 in taxpayer funds for research projects.
The second largest scheme involved directing two major development firms into using the law firm Goldberg and Iryami, which gave Silver $700,000 in referral fees.
In all, Silver is accused of pocketing over $4 million in bribes since 2002, NBC New York reported.