A federal appeals court in Manhattan on Monday affirmed the corruption conviction and 14-year sentence of former Brooklyn Assemb. William F. Boyland, finding that a new Supreme Court decision that narrowed federal corruption laws didn’t affect the case.
Boyland was convicted in 2014 of offering to help a real estate developer and carnival operator in return for bribes in two FBI sting operations, as well as claiming state travel expenses for days he wasn’t in Albany and misusing an elderly grant for his campaign.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said jury instructions at Boyland’s trial did not comply with a 2016 Supreme Court ruling that a corrupt scheme required an official exercise of government power instead of just a meeting or phone call, but Boyland’s behavior so clearly met that standard that the error didn’t matter.
“In connection with each matter, Boyland agreed to ensure that favorable governmental decisions would be made, whether for licensing, work contracts, zoning, or funding,” the court said. “We see no reasonable possibility, in light of the record as a whole, that flaw affected the outcome of the case.”
Boyland, 46, is currently in federal prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania, and is due to be released in 2026.
The 2nd Circuit’s interpretation of last year’s Supreme Court ruling in a case involving one-time Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is a key element in efforts by former state Senate leader Dean Skelos and former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver to overturn their convictions.
As with Boyland, the government has argued in both of those cases that erroneous jury instructions do not require reversal, because the juries likely found Skelos and Silver guilty because of behavior that would still qualify under the new, narrower Supreme Court standard.
But in those two cases, defense lawyers have argued that at trial prosecutors also urged conviction on the basis of theories that would no longer pass muster — setting up a meeting, for example, or helping a supporter’s child find a job.
Boyland’s lawyer, James Branden, declined to comment on the ruling but said Boyland would likely seek further appellate review, either from the full 2d Circuit court or the Supreme Court.