NEW YORK — Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is back home on the Lower East Side, after being released early from federal prison. Silver is expected to serve the remainder of his six-and-a-half year sentence on federal corruption charges under home confinement.
Rabbi Akiva Homnick, President of Pidyon Shvuyai Yisroel, a Jewish prisoner support group who traveled with Silver to his Grand Street home said of Silver’s demeanor, “Yeah, I mean he wasn’t super smiley but I’m sure inside he’s thrilled and ecstatic to be out.”
The once-powerful Democrat was first convicted in 2015 under two schemes to use his office for personal financial gain. Part of his conviction related to the counts of Honest Services Fraud were thrown out when the United States Supreme Court narrowed the definition of that charge. Silver was then retried and convicted in 2018. Silver’s appeals kept him out of going to prison until last year, when he was ordered by a judge to report to a federal prison in upstate Otisville. He's been there since last August.
Sources say Silver, 77, became eligible for release under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES Act, which calls for reducing the federal prison population to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
People close to Silver say his health has greatly deteriorated in recent months. He arrived on the Lower East Side in a wheelchair, and entered his apartment complex through a back entrance. Homnick says Silver needs to focus on regaining his strength, “Getting his health back in order, and as far as the community, we are focusing on the positive things he did for the community.”
Silver served as Assembly Speaker from 1994 until his indictment in 2015, making him one of the longest serving Speakers in state history. Late last year, President Trump considered pardoning him on his way out of the White House, but that lobbying effort by supporters ultimately fell short, after New York State Republicans raised objections.