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Former NY assembly speaker Sheldon Silver released from prison on furlough

NEW YORK — Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been released from a federal prison on furlough while he awaits potential placement to home confinement, a person familiar with the matter tells The Associated Press.

Silver, 77, began serving his more than six-year sentence at a prison in Otisville, New York, in August, after years of fending off going behind bars in a corruption case.

He has been released to his home while awaiting a final decision on whether he can serve the rest of his sentence there in home confinement, the person says. The person isn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly and speaks to the AP on the condition of anonymity.

The federal Bureau of Prisons doesn’t provide details or a reason for the transfer, but Congress gave the Justice Department expanded powers during the coronavirus pandemic to release inmates on furlough and home confinement to prevent them from catching the virus behind bars.

Several other prisoners at Otisville, including former US president Donald Trump’s onetime lawyer Michael Cohen, have been serving their sentences at home because of the pandemic.

In a statement, the Bureau of Prisons notes it can transfer inmates to their home on furlough for periods of time while they are being considered for home confinement or placement in a halfway house.

Silver, a Jewish Democrat from Manhattan, was once one of the three most powerful state officials in New York. He was the Assembly’s leader for more than two decades before his abrupt ouster in 2015 after the corruption allegations emerged.

He was ultimately convicted in a scheme that involved a type of illegal back-scratching that has long plagued Albany. He supported legislation that benefited real estate developers he knew. In return, they referred tax business to a law firm that employed Silver, which then paid him fees.

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver leaves US District Court after he was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison, in New York, July 20, 2020. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
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