Monday, May 6, 2013

State Senator John Sampson Arrested For Embezzlement

State Sen. John Sampson allegedly used US Attorney staffer to track embezzlement probe: feds

  • Last Updated: 4:50 PM, May 6, 2013
  • Posted: 1:20 PM, May 6, 2013
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A diagram unveiled by the US Attorney and the FBI shows John Sampson's alleged embezzlement scheme
 State Sen. John Sampson, of Brooklyn, was arrested by the FBI this morning and charged with embezzling $440,000 between 1998 and 2008, funneling some of the cash into his unsuccessful 2005 campaign to become Brooklyn district attorney — and chillingly using a mole in the federal prosecutor's office to try and identify witnesses against him so he could arrange to "take them out."
At a press conference announcing the veteran politician's arrest, Eastern District US Attorney Loretta Lynch revealed the disturbing allegations that Sampson had a Justice Department mole in her office to keep tabs on the criminal probe into his activities — and leak information about the identify of federal informants.
John Sampson leaves court today.
Gabriella Bass
John Sampson leaves court today.
"He did attempt to trade on a personal relationship with an administrative employee [of the Justice Department] gain information," Lynch said this morning.
The feds charge that Sampson explained to an unnamed real estate associate that he was attempting to discover the identities of federal witnesses in the Brooklyn US Attorney's mortgage fraud probe into his activities.
In one ominous exchange, Sampson allegedly told the real estate associate that if they could learn the identity of the federal informants, that "Sampson could arrange to 'take them out,'" the feds said today.
That Brooklyn federal employee has since been terminated, but Lynch declined to offer details about an internal probe that followed — saying aspects of the investigation into Sampson's alleged wrongdoing is ongoing.
The criminal charges against Sampson — who sat on the state Senate's Ethics and Judiciary committees — undermines the public trust in their elected representatives and "causes people to become more cynical," Lynch said at the press conference.
Lynch said the underlying ethos behind Sampson's alleged illegal conduct was the Democratic legislator's selfishness.
"The fact that he was trying to become the top state prosecutor in this borough shows the extreme arrogance and hubris" that appears to pervade Sampson's character. "It's all about him," the prosecutor said.
Lynch said the embezzlement scheme stems from Sampson's work as an attorney who also served as court-appointed referee over foreclosure proceedings in the Brooklyn Supreme Court.
In this capacity, Sampson controlled escrow accounts that held funds from the sale of the foreclosure properties.
Sampson is charged with embezzling some $440,000 from the foreclosure sale of four properties in Brooklyn.
It was those embezzled funds that Sampson allegedly used in part to help underwrite his campaign to become Brooklyn's top law enforcement officer, when he ran for DA in 2005, Lynch said.
Lynch said Sampson also allegedly stole $188,500 from a real estate associate after promising to pay the loan money back, the feds say.
After the feds began probing this alleged incident, Sampson allegedly tried to discourage the real estate associate from cooperating with investigators and encourage the person to lie, said George Venizelos, who heads the FBI's New York office.
Federal prosecutors charged Sampson today with witness and evidence tampering for this alleged misconduct.

State Senator Pleads Not Guilty in Federal Corruption Case

By Joe Valiquette, Marc Santia and AP
|  Monday, May 6, 2013  |  Updated 4:44 PM EDT

State Sen. John Sampson, a Democrat representing parts of Brooklyn, pleaded not guilty in federal court on Monday on charges of embezzlement, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI. 
Federal prosecutors already have offered a plea deal to Sampson, who had his first court appearance Monday. His lawyer did not respond publicly to the offer.
Sampson was a court-appointed referee to watch over escrow accounts for sales of foreclosed properties in Brooklyn. It's alleged he embezzled $440,000 between 1998 and 2008.
He's also accused of funneling funds into his failed campaign for Brooklyn DA.
The charges against Sampson come less than a week after prosecutors revealed that former Sen. Shirley Huntley made numerous secret recordings of other elected officials in a bid for leniency in her own corruption case.
Sampson, who represents the 19th senatorial district encompassing Canarsie, East New York, Mill Basin, Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay, was elected to the Senate in 1996. 
He is a member and past chairman of the New York Senate Judiciary Committee. 
Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said Sampson has been stripped of his ranking positions and committee assignments.
FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said in a statement Monday that "incumbent and defendant cannot be accepted as interchangeable."
"Elected officials are referred to as public servants, and that should not be confused with self-serving," he said.
Messages left with Sampson's district office and his attorney were not immediately returned.
U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said Sampson allegedly abused public trust "for years" and stole from New Yorkers whose homes were in foreclosure.
“But the former Senate ethics leader didn’t stop there," Lynch said in a statement. "Senator Sampson allegedly stole that money to fund his own ambition to become Brooklyn’s top state prosecutor, then engaged in an elaborate obstruction scheme to hide his illegal conduct, going so far as to counsel lies and the hiding of evidence.”

The allegations against Sampson follow last month's arrests of State Sen. Malcolm Smith, New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran and two New York City GOP leaders on federal bribery charges.
According to court documents, Smith, a Democrat, allegedly schemed with Halloran, a Republican, to bribe Bronx and Queens Republican county chairs for a GOP line on this year's mayoral ballot. All four pleaded not guilty to various corruption charges in late April.
Separately, New York State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was also arrested in April, charged withaccepting bribes in exchange for official acts. He denies the allegations.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced several anti-corruption proposals in the wake of the bribery scandal.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for writing the article and doing what you do. I always knew politicians were an underhanded bunch, but I'm glad to see the feds are trying to police some of them when the opportunity arises (selectively, I'm sure). It's a pleasure to see the tax dollars so efficiently at work.