US Attorney Preet Bharara has won a massive victory in his quest to get rid of what he calls a "cauldron of corruption" in New York's state capital. Sheldon Silver, the former longtime New York State Assembly speaker, has been found guilty of federal corruption charges and faces many years in prison, reports the New York Times, which calls the Democrat "one of the most feared politicians" in the state. After nearly three days of deliberation, a jury found the 71-year-old guilty of abusing his powers over the state budget by taking part in two schemes that made him around $4 million, Wall Street Journal reports. He will automatically be kicked out of the assembly after nearly 40 years as a member and more than 20 as speaker.
In one scheme, Silver directed state funds to a cancer researcher who ensured Silver won hefty referral fees from a law firm he sent patients to, the New York Daily News reports. In the second, Silver negotiated tax breaks for a developer that sent its business to another law firm that paid him referral fees, the Journal reports. The payments were discovered when an anti-corruption committee scrutinized his outside income. Silver was found guilty on seven counts and could face a sentence of up to 120 years in federal prison, reports the Times, which notes that a prosecutor described his conduct as government not "by the people or for the people," but "by Sheldon Silver for Sheldon Silver." (After less than two hours of deliberations, a "stressed out" juror asked to go home.)