Sheldon Silver, the once powerful Speaker of the New York State Assembly who was convicted on corruption charges, died on Monday at the age of 77, according to The New York Times.
Silver died at the Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, Mass., near where he had been incarcerated, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Prisons told the newspaper.
A native of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Silver was born in 1942 to Russian immigrants, graduating from Yeshiva University in 1965 with a Bachelor of Arts and receiving his Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School three years later.
Silver served in the state Assembly for 38 years before his 2015 arrest and was selected as the Speaker of the Assembly in 1994, a position he held for two decades.
New York Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D) of Long Island described Silver as “a mythic, tragic hero who did some wonderful things for our state,” but “brought shame on our state and on his name,” according to the Times.
Silver was convicted of a series of corruption charges in 2015 but successfully appealed the decision in 2017 before being tried and convicted again in 2018. He began serving a 6 ½-year sentence in 2020 and was briefly released from prison due to the coronavirus.
Former Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D), a longtime friend of Silver’s, told Newsday that the once powerful politician had “paid his price.”
“I served 25 years with this man and I knew his heart,” Weisenberg said. “Here was a man who had a death sentence after spending more than half his lifetime in public service. … He made a mistake and he paid his price.”