Silver, Skelos Seek Their Freedom During Appeals

NEW YORK (AP) -

Two former top state legislators sentenced to lengthy prison terms after they were convicted of public corruption crimes are urging judges to let them remain free pending appeal following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos filed the court papers Monday and Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.

Silver, a 72-year-old Democrat, was convicted last year in a $5 million corruption case and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Skelos, a Republican, and his son, Adam Skelos, were convicted last year of extortion and bribery. The 68-year-old Skelos was sentenced to five years in prison, and his 33-year-old son received a 6 1/2-year sentence.

Lawyers said that their prospects improved considerably after the Supreme Court last month reversed the conviction of ex-Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, who had been convicted of accepting $175,000 in loans and gifts from a businessman seeking help from the state.

In reversing McDonnell’s conviction, the nation’s highest court raised the standards federal prosecutors must use as they consider accusing public officials of wrongdoing.

Lawyers for Silver and Skelos argued that a jury would likely reach a different result if retried.