Lower East Side Reacts to Guilty Verdict in Shelly Silver Corruption Trial
Josh Robin spoke with people in the Assembly district Sheldon Silver represented for years and brought us their reaction to his conviction on corruption charges from the Lower East Side.
"I knew him," said one resident
"He lives right here in the complex," said another.
"He's like a father and a friend," said a third.
After nearly 40 years as the local Assemblyman — Sheldon Silver is a living relic of the Lower East Side.
And people tuned in when the local Assemblyman was convicted.
The verdict means 71-year-old Silver is not only facing two decades behind bars, but also was forced immediately to vacate his seat.
"I'm sure a lot of people are going to be disappointed," said Herb Zolty, a resident of the Lower East Side.
Zolty has lived here for all of his 84 years.
He credits Silver with funding a popular local center, but sympathy has its limits.
"He did something bad — you pay for it."
Question: "Was he good for this neighborhood?"
"He was great for this neighborhood," Zolty answered.
Not everyone agrees.
"What he did for me? He did nothing for me," said Nilsa Sanchez.
Sanchez has lived here for 30 years — witnessing a recent rise in costs.
"Everything is expensive around here," Sanchez said. "A pack of hotdogs that used to cost $2, now costs $14 around here and it's not even Nathans.
Question: "The neighborhood's changed?"
"A whole lot," Sanchez answered.
Changed in many ways.
At the lone kosher butchery around, Baruch Weiss called himself shocked.
"Yes I'm shocked that he got convicted but I'm sure he's not guilty even if he's not guilty he got convicted by a jury so that means he's going to go to a higher court now," Weiss said.
A store over from the butcher — luncheonette owner Gerry Kekatos isn't sure.
"It's bound to happen," Kekatos said. "Who is straight nowadays? What politician is straight? They're bound to do something wrong. It's just greed."
The area is now without a representative in the state assembly. No special election date has been set.
As for a successor, local activist Paul Newell says he's interested. He challenged silver in 2008 — picking up endorsements but losing.
At Silver's home we're told he slipped in through the back door. He made a brief statement outside the courthouse that he's disappointed with the decision.