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Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver dead at 77

Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

  • Sheldon Silver, the New York Assembly Speaker from 1994 to 2015, died Monday at 77.
  • Silver was serving a prison sentence onn corruption charges.
  • He was one of the most powerful New York politicians of all time.

Disgraced former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has died in prison while serving a six-year sentence on federal corruption charges. He was 77.

Silver, once a Democratic powerhouse and one of the most powerful politicians in the history of the Empire State, was being housed in a prison medical center in Massachusetts called FMC Devens, according to the Bureau of Prisons website. He died at the Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer, Massachusetts, the BOP told Insider in a statement.

Silver served for more than two decades as New York Assembly speaker before he was ousted in 2015. 

Known for his ability to whip votes and consolidate power, Silver was at the center of several major policy victories for the Democratic Party as well as scandals beyond the corruption probe that landed him behind bars.

He survived an attempted “coup” in 2000 when Assembly members from the Upstate New York region grew tired of what they saw as Silver’s outsize influence as speaker and, by extension, as a power broker for New York City interests.

Silver also proved to be instrumental in New York’s reinstatement of the death penalty in 1995 — before it was ruled unconstitutional by the New York Court of Appeals in 2004 — as well as in other policy realms, most notably rent control and affordable housing.

While Silver was a proponent of rent control and wielded much of his power through the Assembly’s control over the process, he also opposed a major affordable housing initiative in Manhattan’s Lower East Side known as the Essex Crossing.

In 2006, Silver was sued by two accusers of his top aide for failing to properly investigate claims of sexual misconduct in the Assembly and for tolerating a culture of sexual harassment in Albany. Silver and the Assembly settled the suit for $500,000 in 2006.

Despite heavy speculation over a potential pardon late in former President Donald Trump’s first term, Silver never received clemency from Trump and was forced to serve out the remainder of his prison sentence.

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