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Appeals court: Sheldon Silver doesn't have to report to prison next week

The ex-Assembly speaker was convicted at a retrial of selling his influence in two Albany bribery schemes and sentenced to 7 years in prison.

A Manhattan federal appeals court on Thursday said former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver does not have to report to prison next week, potentially a good sign for Silver’s pending appeal of his corruption conviction.

The ruling from a three-judge panel of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals came one day after the judges questioned a prosecutor closely during oral arguments in the case.

Silver, 75, was convicted at a retrial last year of selling his influence in two Albany bribery schemes and sentenced to 7 years in prison. That trial followed reversal of an earlier conviction.

In September, a Second Circuit panel postponed the ex-speaker’s prison surrender until seven days after oral arguments in his appeal were heard. That stay would have expired next week.

On Thursday, the judges that will decide his appeal — Raymond Lohier, Richard Wesley and Richard Sullivan — extended the release until “seven days after a decision on the merits of this appeal, unless the panel orders otherwise.”

The new extension could mean the court is leaning toward reversal or is undecided, but is not a certain indicator of how the case will come out.

Silver was convicted of receiving $4 million in referrals to law firms he was associated with from a medical researcher and two real estate companies in return for legislative favors.

One key issue on appeal is U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni’s jury instruction that they didn’t need to find that Silver entered into an “agreement” to do particular acts in return for money, only that he generally understood he was expected to exercise influence in some way at some point.

Silver’s lawyers contend that gave the jury too much latitude to convict him without an actual “quid pro quo” bribe.

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