Two out of New York’s “three men in a room” are now likely headed to a prison cell.
The phrase refers to the governor, the Assembly speaker and the Senate majority leader, and in this case that’s Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos. The two long-term lawmakers were convicted of multiple charges of corruption in separate federal trials within the last two weeks and subsequently lost their seats.
Skelos and Silver are each facing decades behind bars, and Columbia Law School’s Jennifer Rodgers says she doesn’t expect their plans for appeal to save them from at least some prison time.
“Normally the sentencing will be in about three months and then about six weeks after the sentencing typically the defendants will have to surrender,” said Rodgers, who leads the university’s Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity. “The appeal will take about a year maybe more. After that, unless they get bail pending appeal, which is rare, it’s really only supposed to be for cases where the defendant can show a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the appeal, which is rare again, so they shouldn’t’ get bail, they should start serving their sentences while the appeal is going on.”
Rodgers says the length of the sentence is up to the judge in each case, but she expects both Silver and Skelos to be incarcerated.
“But these were serious crimes, there was a lot of money at issue here…so I think they probably will see some jail time,” Rodgers told MetroFocus Host Rafael Pi Roman.
Skelos was was found guilty Friday of using his influence to pressure companies into offering employment opportunities for his son, Adam, who was also convicted. The arrangement netted the younger Skelos more than $300,000, The New York Times reported. Silver was found guilty late last month of running two schemes that earned him $4 million in illegal payments.
The convictions have prompted renewed calls for ethics reform, including restrictions on outside and tighter disclosure requirements. Rodgers says these changes might help stop corruption in the case of Silver but not Skelos.
“…Skelos is a different animal because there’s no outside income for Skelos himself — it was for his son — and because no one is suggesting tightening of the disclosure requirements that would allow for disclosure of the income of an adult non-dependent child,” she said. “So really the next Skeloses are going to have to be caught by just very vigorous enforcement. Again, there aren’t reforms that are going to kind of put the kibosh on that kind of behavior.”
Still, Rodgers says both convictions and Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Baharara’s on-going investigations are creating an environment ripe for change.
“I think we are at a moment in time where we can make real things happen whether it’s through legislation or some people are talking about a Constitutional Convention, some method will happen I think that will give us real change at last,” she said.