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Sheldon Silver, former Assembly speaker, disbarred over conviction

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Dec. 11,

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Dec. 11, 2014. Silver has been disbarred as a result of his conviction last year on corruption charges in federal court in Manhattan. Credit: Hans Pennink

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been disbarred as a result of his conviction last year on corruption charges in federal court in Manhattan.

The state courts’ Appellate Division in Manhattan, which handles attorney-discipline matters for lawyers living there, said disbarment is automatic for a state felony or comparable federal felony, and Silver’s federal extortion convictions qualify.

The Appellate Division on Tuesday said the ex-speaker wanted to hold on to his law license until his post-trial motions for acquittal are decided, but it denied any delay because automatic disbarment was retroactive to Nov. 30, the day Silver was convicted.

“Unfortunately, a felony conviction typically results in an automatic disbarment,” said Joel Cohen, a lawyer for the former speaker.

Silver, who represented an Assembly district on Manhattan’s Lower East Side until his conviction, was admitted to the New York bar in 1969.

He was convicted last year of using his legislative power to do favors in return for nearly $4 million in referral fees from an asbestos personal-injury law firm and another firm that sought tax reductions for large building owners.

U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni has scheduled Silver’s sentencing for April 13.

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