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Sheldon Silver, New York Power Broker Sent to Prison, Dies at 77

Sheldon Silver, New York Power Broker Sent to Prison, Dies at 77



Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, one of the most powerful figures in state government for two decades before his conviction on corruption charges, has died in federal custody. He was 77 years old.

Mr. Silver died Monday, a person familiar with the matter told the Associated Press. The person couldn’t discuss the matter publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

The Manhattan Democrat, who told a judge he prayed he wouldn’t die in prison, had been serving a more than six-year sentence in federal prison.

He was convicted of using his clout in state government to benefit real-estate developers, who rewarded him by referring lucrative business to his law firm.

He was elected Assembly speaker in 1994, a powerful position that put him on equal footing with the governor and state Senate leader when it came to making key decisions about annual budgets or major legislation.

In all, Mr. Silver served as speaker during the tenure of five New York governors, from Mario Cuomo to Andrew Cuomo.

He survived an early tenure coup attempt and became adept at horse-trading to secure education funding, tenants rights legislation and other policies favored by Assembly Democrats. An Orthodox Jew, Mr. Silver was known to observe Sabbath even during the marathon negotiation sessions that preceded annual budget deadlines and the end of legislative sessions.

Over time, he became a symbol of Albany’s much-maligned opaque style of governance and, ultimately, a target of federal prosecutors.

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Harvey Yan


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