LOWER MANHATTAN — Disgraced New York politicians found guilty of corruption can have their pensions seized by the government, a Manhattan federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The decision, which could potentially effect the nearly $80,000-a-year pension former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon is currently collecting, is big win for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who has long fought to strip pensions from corrupt lawmakers, arguing that it's simply common sense.
Convicted politicians should lose pensions paid for by taxpayers they betrayed. https://t.co/NWekXZRF8c— US Attorney Bharara (@PreetBharara) August 17, 2016
The appellate judges Wednesday weighed in on the case of convicted Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, from The Bronx, who was fighting to protect his pension as he faces a $22,000 forfeiture related to his 2014 corruption conviction.
In 2011, New York lawmakers voted to stop allowing corrupt politicians to keep their pensions, but it didn't apply to those who were already in the state legislature, like Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos, the former state senate majority leader who was found guilty on corruption charges late last year.
The appeals court ruled that federal law trumped state law when it came to seizing assets in corruption cases, so all corrupt politicians' pensions are now up for grabs.
Silver — who was convicted by a federal jury last November for abusing his office power in a scheme that earned him nearly $4 million in kickbacks disguised as a legitimate salary — was sentenced to 12 years in prison, along with fines and forfeitures that amount to nearly $7 million.
Bharara has not said whether he will try to go after Silver's pension.