NEW YORK, May 3 (UPI) -- Sheldon Silver, longtime Democratic politician and former speaker of the New York State Assembly, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for corruption by a federal judge on Tuesday.
Silver was also ordered to pay $1.75 million in fines.
The 72-year-old lawyer and longtime representative of Lower Manhattan was found guilty last November of fraud, extortion and money laundering. In addition to trading favors with local real estate developers, it was determined that Silver found jobs for two women he had extramarital affairs with.
U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni said she hoped the harsh sentence would send a message to other politicians tempted by bribes and kickbacks.
"Here's the thing about corruption: It makes the public very cynical," Caproni said.
Prior to the sentencing, Silver offered a few words of contrition.
"I let down my family, I let down my colleagues, I let down my constituents," he told the judge. "I am truly, truly sorry for that."
Silver sent a letter of apology to Caproni earlier this year and has publicly expressed remorse. But prosecutors say Silver only offered an apology after the verdict and promised his supporters vindication up until the very end.
Silver is the 11th New York state politician to be convicted on corruption charges since 2009, and his is the second-longest sentence yet.
Silver and his lawyers promised to appeal the decision.
"I believe in the justice system in this nation and will pursue whatever remedies the system makes available," the former assemblyman told reporters after the sentencing hearing.