NEW YORK - Former New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Silver was convicted last year of seven federal charges, including bribery, corruption, extortion and wire fraud. 

As News 12 has reported, the 72-year-old Silver abused his massive power to earn $5 million in illegal bribes and kickbacks, and then lied about it.

Silver is also accused of using his power in Albany to help the careers of two women with whom he had affairs.

When asking for a stiff prison sentence, federal prosecutors said a message had to be sent to the public and elected officials that political corruption will no longer be tolerated. Silver's defense attorneys had asked for leniency due to his age and health.

In addition to prison time, Silver must pay about $7 million -- $5.3 million of which is what prosecutors say he pocketed, and $1.75 million was a fine.

Silver is expected to begin serving his sentence July 1. He is appealing his conviction, but it remains to be seen if he will be allowed to stay free on bail.