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Sheldon Silver asks for delay of his 12-year prison sentence

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver exits Federal District

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver exits Federal District Court in Manhattan after being sentenced to 12 years on corruption related charges on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Credit: Bryan R. Smith

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on Friday asked a federal judge to delay his 12-year prison sentence for corruption until his appeal is resolved a day after ex-Senate leader Dean Skelos made headway with the same argument after getting a five-year term.

Silver, like Skelos, said in his Manhattan federal court filing that several Supreme Court justices during a recent oral argument on the conviction of Virginia’s former governor raised doubts about the federal anti-corruption law used to convict Silver and Skelos, creating a likelihood of a reversal.

Over opposition from the government on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood didn’t set a surrender date after sentencing Skelos to five years, and instead ordered the two sides to submit papers next week on whether he and his son Adam should get bail pending appeal.

Silver’s lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni to allow oral argument on their request, and stay his scheduled July 1 surrender date if she refuses bail so they have time to appeal her ruling.

The issue in the case of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is the definition of an “official act” that must be done in return for benefits to trigger corruption laws. He helped set up meetings, but the justices worried that the term is too vague and has given prosecutors too much discretion to criminalize.

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