Convicted Ex-Assembly Speaker to receive pension
The former leader of the NYS Assembly faces up to 120 years in prison after being convicted of fraud and extortion.
Sheldon Silver no longer works for taxpayers - yet he will still be paid more than $87,000 every year from his pension.
"We should be pushing for real reform on this," said NY Assemblyman Mark Johns (R-Fairport).
13WHAM News first looked at this issue two years ago in a 'You Paid For It" investigation. We went through our archives and quickly found a dozen convicted felons from the Rochester area cashing in on taxpayer-funded pensions adding up to $500,000 a year.
Pension reform bills proposed at that time were supposed to do one thing.
"If you commit a felony in the commission of your job, you will not only lose your job and your title and be kicked out of government - you will also lose your pension," said Assemblyman Johns.
Johns supports that bill but says it was never put up for a vote in the Assembly. Instead , the senate and assembly are considering watered-down versions which allow spouses to receive all or part of those pensions.
"They were concerned that public officials would be hurting their families by losing their pensions. But if you do corrupt things you're already hurting your family," Johns said.
Even those versions of the pension reform bill will not be retroactive. That means Sheldon Silver will get $87,120 a year in spite of his conviction.
Over his expected lifetime that adds up to $1.15 million.
"We've got to make sure Albany is cleaned up from the corruption we've seen in the last decade," said State Senator Rich Funke (R-Fairport).
Funke says he supports a pension reform bill with more teeth. He also supports term limits.
"When you're in a state where 33 lawmakers in the last few years have been indicted, charged, or forced to step down you have to do something," Funke said Tuesday.
One final note: Prosecutor Phreet Bharara said he will try to seize Silver's pension to use it to pay restitution to taxpayers.
It's the first time anything like this has been tried.