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Sheldon Silver's Fight to Stay Out of Jail is 'Meritless,' Prosecutors Say

 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

MANHATTAN FEDERAL COURT — Former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver should not be allowed to stay out of jail while he appeals his corruption conviction — an appeal he will not win, prosecutors argued in court papers filed in Manhattan Federal Court this week.

Silver, a disgraced longtime New York politician, is fighting to win bail while he appeals a federal jury's guilty verdict on a host of charges related to two bribery schemes in which prosecutors said he received millions in kickbacks by trading political favors for money. 

Earlier this month, Silver's lawyers argued that thanks to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which overturned the corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, Silver's case, too, would likely be thrown out — and he should be allowed to stay out of prison on bail while he made his appeals case.

McDonnell was accused of swapping political favors for lavish gifts. The Supreme Court, in overturning the conviction, narrowed what could be considered an "official act" when related to accusations of corruption — only concrete, formal government actions, not things like setting up meetings or other acts of political courtesies are "official acts," the court said.

But prosecutors said this week in court papers that Silver's new theory for staying out of prison is "meritless," arguing that his case is not like McDonnell's — his acts of political favors were indeed official, and McDonnell's case will not exonerate him or win him a new trial.

"But McDonnell will not save Silver on appeal, nor should it entitle him to bail pending appeal," prosecutors wrote.

“Over the course of a trial that spanned five weeks, Silver did not deny that he took numerous official actions benefiting individuals and entities that steered him business worth millions of dollars,” prosecutors wrote.

“Nor could he, given the overwhelming evidence introduced at trial demonstrating that Silver approved funding, authorized legislation, and made other decisions in his official capacity as Speaker of the New York State Assembly, and as an elected State Assemblyman, that benefited those from whom he received millions of dollars in personal payoffs."

Silver, who was sentenced in May to 12 years in prison, along with a fine and forfeiture of more than $6 million, was initially ordered to start his jail time in July, but Judge Valerie Caproni agreed to push the date to Aug. 31, to wait for the McDonnell ruling, allowing that it could affect Silver's appeal efforts. 

Prosecutors also filed a similar response this week in federal court to the bail request of another once-powerful, now convicted, New York politician, Dean Skelos.

Skelos, is also asking to stay out of prison on bail while he appeals, based on the same Supreme Court ruling as Silver.

Skelos, the former state Senate majority leader, was sentenced to five years in prison less than a week after Silver. A federal jury convicted Skelos and his son on a slate of charges linked to a years-long kickback scheme in which they took money from an environmental company while hiding it from authorities, in exchange for legislative favors from the majority leader. 

Prosecutors said like Silver, Skelos will not be saved by the Supreme Court ruling, and he should head to prison while he appeals his case.