NEW YORK (AP) – Former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been released from federal prison while awaiting potential accommodation in a home, a person familiar with the matter told the Associated Press.
Silver, 77, has been serving more than six years in prison in a prison in Ottisville, New York, in August, after years of being put behind bars in a corruption case.
He was released into his home while awaiting a final decision on whether he could serve the remainder of his sentence there at home, the person said. The person was not authorized to discuss the issue in public and spoke to the PA on Tuesday on condition of anonymity.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons did not provide details or a reason for the transfer, but Congress gave the Department of Justice expanded powers during the coronavirus pandemic. to release prisoners from prison and jail to prevent them from catching the virus behind bars.
A spokesman for the U.S. prosecutor̵
The lawyers who represented Silver during the trial and in the appellate court either stated that they no longer represented him or did not respond to emails and voice messages.
Several other Ottisville inmates, including former President Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, have served their sentences at home because of the pandemic.
In a statement, the Bureau of Prisons noted that it could transfer prisoners to their home at large for periods of time while they were being treated as a prison or half-house accommodation.
Silver, a Democrat from Manhattan, was once one of the three most powerful government officials in New York. He was the leader of the Assembly more than two decades before his abrupt removal in 2015 after allegations of corruption surfaced.
He was eventually convicted under a scheme that included a type of illegal scratching on his back that has long plagued Albany. He has backed legislation that benefits real estate developers he knows. In return, they directed the tax business to a law firm that worked with Silver, which then paid him fees.
The appeals kept Silver out of prison for years. His initial sentence for 2015 was overturned on appeal before he was convicted again in 2018. Part of that sentence was overturned on another appeal, leading to a new conviction in July.
At the time of his sentence, Silver’s lawyers had asked the court to allow him to serve his sentence at home, not in prison, because of the danger of a fatal COVID-19 case. The judge refused.
The prison office is relocating some inmates to work to get prisoners who are expected to move into the home sooner.
More than 7,000 federal prisoners remain in the home, according to statistics from the Bureau of Prisons. The agency has released nearly 25,000 inmates since last March amid a coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Bureau’s guidelines, priority should be given to prisoners who have served half of their sentence or prisoners with a remainder of 18 months or less and who have served at least 25% of their time. But the bureau has an assessment of who can be released.
In January the Department of Justice issued a note stating that the Bureau of Prisons may need to return to prison some inmates serving extended terms of house arrest after the expiration of the emergency coronavirus period established by Congress.
Silver’s lawyers argued that their client should be placed in the home because he was considered a high-risk coronavirus because of his age and pre-existing medical conditions.
Silver, who was elected to the Assembly in 1977 and became a speaker in 1994, has a planned release date from federal arrest in 2026.
Associated Press reporters Larry Neumeister and Tom Hayes of New York contributed to the report.