Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a backroom master whose name was synonymous with political power in New York for a generation, was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison, destined to take his place atop the state's crowded lineup of crooked politicians behind bars. Silver, a 72-year-old Manhattan Democrat, lowered his head slightly and closed his eyes briefly as a stern US Judge Valerie Caproni announced his fate, the AP reports. "I hope the sentence I impose upon you will make other politicians think twice until their better angels take over—or, if there are no better angels, perhaps the fear of living out his golden years in an orange jumpsuit," said Caproni, who also ordered Silver to forfeit $5.3 million and pay a $1.75 million fine.
Silver led the Assembly for more than two decades before he became the centerpiece of one of New York's steepest political falls from grace. He was convicted last year in a $5 million corruption case alleging he traded favors to enrich himself and then lied about it. "I believe in the justice system, and we will pursue all remedies that are available," Silver said as he left court. He's free on bail for now; he's scheduled to report to prison July 1. His sentencing was a marquee moment in Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara's quest to clean up a state government he has called a "cauldron of corruption." Silver's former state Senate counterpart, Republican ex-Majority Leader Dean Skelos, is due to be sentenced later this month on his own corruption conviction.