Most satisfying news of the day

Skelos, Cuomo and Silver. Two down, one to go.

Skelos, Cuomo and Silver. Two down, one to go.

Publius alerted us to the news that New York’s former senate leader, Sheldon Silver was convicted this afternoon. Albany has been run as a corrupt fiefdom for decades, with the spoils divided between Silver for the Democrats and, most recently, Dean Skelos batting for the Republicans; the jury’s still out, literally, on Skelos, but he’s probably not going to be pleased with the result. All of the state’s governors played along and got rich during the process, but Andrew Cuomo’s in office now, and his are the freshest crimes. I’m looking forward to him being up next in the battered box.

Sheldon Silver, for decades one of the most powerful politicians in New York state, was convicted Monday of honest-services fraud, extortion and money laundering in a trial that is likely to reshape the business of Albany and embolden prosecutors with an appetite for public-corruption cases aimed at the Capitol.

The Democratic speaker of the New York state Assembly for more than 20 years, Mr. Silver was found guilty by a 12-person federal jury in Manhattan of four counts of honest-services fraud, two counts of extortion, and one count of money laundering.

His conviction triggers his automatic expulsion from the Legislature, where he has served since 1977.

The verdict brings a stunning end to the lengthy political career of Mr. Silver, 71 years old, who stood as one of the most powerful if inscrutable figures in Albany, presiding over a tightly controlled Democratic conference and earning a reputation as a masterful negotiator against the governor and other legislative leaders.

This will undoubtedly come as bad news to Hillary Clinton, who has called her friend Sheldon a “stalwart voice on behalf of the needs of New Yorkers.” It’ll be fun to see how quickly she runs away from her words and her friend.

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6 responses to “Most satisfying news of the day

  1. Anonymous

    I will never move back to NYS, and I can’t wait to get out of CT.

  2. A better photo for your caption is Sheldon with Hillary.

  3. AJ

    Most satisfying? ISIS Jihadi blown up by artillery shell while making propaganda video caught on film. Not for the faint of heart or easily triggered.

  4. AJNock

    Hoping the slimy scumbag actually goes to jail…and not a Club Fed.

  5. Hooray! Another one bites the dust.

  6. Yesterday also brought this small victory over political corruption in Westchester:

    A former Mount Vernon planning commissioner and her businessman ex-boyfriend were convicted Monday for a second time on federal corruption charges.

    The pair took part in a scheme in which she steered more than $2 million in contracts and loans to him more than a decade ago.

    Constance “Gerrie” Post, 66, and Wayne Charles, 62, were found guilty of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud on the second day of jury deliberations. The unorthodox 9-week retrial at the federal courthouse in White Plains featured about a five-month hiatus midway due to scheduling conflicts.

    Post and Charles were initially found guilty in 2009 but their convictions were thrown out by the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Karas, following Supreme Court rulings that changed the theory of “theft of honest services” fraud that prosecutors had initially relied upon.

    Post was the city planning commissioner and executive director of the Mount Vernon Urban Renewal Agency, which used federal Housing and Urban Development funds to provide low-income housing and loans for renovating rundown properties.

    Wayne Charles leaves Federal Court in White PlainsBuy Photo
    Wayne Charles leaves Federal Court in White Plains March 26, 2008. ( Frank Becerra Jr. / The Journal News ) (Photo: File Photo/The Journal News)
    She got the agency to give a computer contract to Micros Only, a company Charles had quietly taken over even though he had no computer experience. The contract started at $8,900 in 1998 but paid $1 million over five years.

    Charles also got an agency loan for $500,000 to renovate an East Third Street apartment building he owned. The loan was not recorded – and Charles did not make any repayments – until after federal investigators began their probe a decade ago.

    Another company of his, WICK Security, also had a $700,000 contract with the city.

    Post never revealed details of her personal relationship with Charles and helped in efforts to keep his name off contracts he received.

    Jurors also learned of a $30,000 payment from Charles to Post that Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Dember argued was a kickback for her help with his contracts and loans.

    Post’s lawyer, Howard Tanner, countered that it was an example of Post’s “consciousness of innocence” and there was nothing nefarious about the payment. He noted it was made with a personal check, endorsed with her name and deposited into her own account.

    Tanner argued that Post’s efforts were driven by her longtime commitment to improve the city and not to line her’s and Charles’ pockets. He and Charles’ lawyer, Stephen Lewis, painted the investigation and prosecution as an “overreach” by the government that unveiled no evidence of a quid pro quo to defraud city or federal taxpayers.

    Tanner said he and Post were “obviously very disappointed in the outcome” but that he respected the verdict and would pursue “all avenues of appeal.”

    “This verdict will never change Gerrie Post’s long record of accomplishment in public service to the citizens of Mount Vernon, where my client helped to bring about economic growth for business and support to obtain affordable housing for low income families,” Tanner wrote in an email.

    Both defendants face up to 20 years on the mail fraud charges but federal sentencing guidelines would likely call for significantly less. They were allowed to remain free on bond until sentencing, which Karas scheduled for March 1.

    In 2013, Karas let stand Charles’ original conviction for lying to federal investigators. Charles faces up to five more years for that when sentenced.

    The retrial began in May, was halted in June and resumed in early November.

    The hiatus was necessary because the lawyers had underestimated how long testimony would last. Jurors had made summer plans and by early June some had been dismissed due to scheduling conflicts. So after five weeks, the judge asked the remaining jurors to pick a time when all could return. They opted for early November.

    Even that didn’t allow the trial to steer clear of the Thanksgiving holiday. Summations were on Nov. 18, 19 and 23 and the jury began deliberations on Nov. 24, requesting a break for the holiday until Monday morning, when they resumed.

    The investigation into Post and Charles, as well as other federal probes into activity at Mount Vernon City Hall, was a major reason cited by Mayor Ernest Davis when he lost the Democratic primary in 2007.

    He recovered to win back the mayor’s office in 2011. But this year he lost his bid for another term after pleading guilty to tax fraud charges – the only crimes he was charged with following years of scrutiny by federal law enforcement.