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Sheldon Silver Getting $79,223 a Year in Pension, State Comptroller Says

By Irene Plagianos | January 20, 2016 5:52pm
 Sheldon Silver was convicted of money laundering, fraud and extortion.
Sheldon Silver was convicted of money laundering, fraud and extortion.
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DNAinfo/Irene Plagianos

LOWER MANHATTAN — Less than two months after his conviction on corruption charges, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is still allowed to collect his yearly $79,222.68 pension, the state comptroller's office confirmed Wednesday.

Silver, a Democratic assemblyman representing Lower Manhattan since 1977, was convicted by a federal jury last November for abusing his office to earn nearly $4 million in kickbacks disguised as a legitimate salary — but that does not preclude him from earning his state pension.

Under the New York State constitution, convicted lawmakers are still eligible for their pensions. Silver filed for his state pension on Dec. 1, a day after a jury found him guilty on seven charges of fraud, extortion and two money laundering-related bribery schemes.

Nikki Jones, a spokeswoman for the state comptroller's office told DNAinfo New York that Silver's first monthly payment, of $6,601.89 "is either about to be sent or has already gone out."

The Journal News first reported Silver's confirmed pension amount — the exact pension payment was not immediately clear when the disgraced politician first filed for his retirement funds.

According to an analysis by The Journal News, New York's pension system is paying out about $531,000 per year to 14 other former state lawmakers and officials who have been convicted of a crime.

As U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and other officials continue to push for ethics reform in Albany, however, the issue of protected pensions for convicted state politicians has come under further scrutiny.

Lawmakers are expected to tackle making a change to pension laws this year, with the backing of Governor Andrew Cuomo.

"It is perverse that taxpayers’ money would support officials found guilty of committing a felony against the taxpayers," Cuomo said in his State of the State address last week. "We must take state pensions from those convicted of a crime related to their government service. Anything else shows disrespect for the rule of law and for the taxpayer."

Bharara has also publically condemned the practice of continued pensions for convicted lawmakers, and in 2013, announced a policy that would use a federal forfeiture law to "claw back" the retirement funds of convicted politicians

According to Silver's federal indictment, prosecutors may seek forfeiture of his pension — but the actual amount would be determined by a judge during Silver's sentencing, slated for April 13, the U.S. Attorney's office said.