For a time, Sheldon Silver was the most powerful man in New York. His reign as speaker spanned five governorships, and nobody wielded as much influence over state law as him. But on Tuesday, a federal court judge sentenced the 72-year-old to prison for 12 years for running multiple corruption schemes.
Silver was convicted last November for essentially selling his office over the course of a decade, cashing in roughly $4 million in legal fees in exchange for various favors. He finally resigned his post after being arrested on federal corruption charges.
In a state known for its corrupt politicians—31 elected state officials have been forced out of office since 2004—Judge Valerie Caproni cited Silver as the worst of the worst. “None involve an official as high up in New York government as you were,” she told him during his sentencing. “None, as far as I can tell, yielded nearly as much in ill gotten gains or lasted nearly as long.”