Shelly is looking at 60 years and he’s not facing the same kind of technical charges that doomed the prosecutions of other (allegedly) corrupt New York legislators like Joe Bruno. He’s facing straight up criminal charges, the kind that the feds almost always get convictions for. And 60 years is no joke for a guy as old as Silver is.
This where things start to get awfully interesting. Silver is old. He’s rich, though the feds have seized almost $4 million from him that they allege Silver got through kickbacks and bribes. He’s got no desire to die in a federal prison. Sheldon Silver is the Rosetta Stone of Albany corruption. He was king of the corrupt hill for decades. He knows where all the bodies are buried and who put them there. And he’s already given up his biggest and best bargaining chip by stepping down as speaker.
He’s in deep shit this time.
So…how long before Shelly’s lawyers try to cut a deal?
The Times story says don't expect a deal any time soon:
Two charges included in the complaint — a mail fraud conspiracy count and an extortion conspiracy count — were not in the indictment. The reason was not immediately clear.
The indictment of Mr. Silver, a Lower East Side Democrat who remains a member of the Assembly, suggests there is little prospect of plea discussions at this stage in the case, and moves the matter toward a possible trial. He will be formally arraigned on the indictment in the coming days.
As the Albany Project notes, Silver's lost the speakership, so a most valuable bargaining chip is already gone.
I'm skeptical the feds would be interested in trading significant time for Silver's tales of malfeasance further down the food chain.
If Silver's looking to get a good deal, he's going to have to give something good, something higher up the food chain.
You know - like this:
If Silver provides new details about Cuomo’s role in the negotiations that led to the commission’s demise, especially if the speaker reveals that Cuomo or his top negotiators were aware of the criminality underlying Silver’s desire to kill the commission, Cuomo’s vulnerability to an obstruction of justice charge increases.
If Silver is willing to testify that Cuomo knowingly entered a deal to kill off the commission because they were getting close to the Speaker, an obstruction of justice charge would be enough to bring Cuomo down. But what if it went even further? What if the Governor’s office was involved in some of the same deals that Silver is charged with orchestrating? If Silver knows of any such things he has a powerful motivation to roll over. The man is 70 years old and he has absolutely zero desire to die in prison. If there’s anything that will convince the Feds to cut a deal where he gets off with a very short sentence or home arrest, it would be a charge against a bigger fish that would definitely stick. And in the New York pool, the only bigger fish is Cuomo.
Just something to keep an eye on as we roll through the legislative session.
Cuomo wants you to think there's nothing to see here, like he's got it all in hand.
But you can bet he waiting and worrying, wondering what Shelly's going to do too.