American politician found guilty of fraud

A once-powerful New York state politician has been found guilty of using his office to receive nearly $5m in bribes and kickbacks.

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted by a federal jury in Manhattan on all seven counts he faced, including fraud, extortion and money laundering.

The 71-year-old Democrat was accused of amassing more than $3m in referral fees from personal injury claims and millions more from real estate developers and shady investments.

“Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York,” Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement after the verdict was announced.

Silver’s lawyers argued at trial that he committed no crimes, and that his actions were typical for politicians in Albany.

The veteran lawmaker’s arrest in January sent shockwaves through New York’s Capitol.

During his nearly 40 years in the state Assembly, including 20 as Speaker, Silver played a major role in creating state budgets, laws and policies in a system long-criticised in Albany as “three men in a room”.

His counterpart, former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, is also facing trial on corruption charges following his arrest in May.

The charges followed an investigation by an anti-corruption commission, which began in 2013.

Authorities said Silver “took legal action and other steps to prevent the disclosure” of lawmakers’ earnings sought by the commission.

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