The New York State Senate’s former top Democrat is the latest legislative leader whose mug shot appears in the rogues’ gallery of disgraced lawmakers busted for political corruption in the state capitol.
Sen. John Sampson (D-Brooklyn), an ex-ethics committee chairman, pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of embezzlement, obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal investigators.
“We share what may well be the concern of many New Yorkers that incumbent and defendant cannot be accepted as interchangeable,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said. “Elected officials are referred to as public servants and that should not be confused with self-serving.”
Prosecutors alleged that the 47-year-old—who led the state Senate’s Democratic minority from June 2009 to December 2012—stole $440,000 in escrow funds from foreclosure sales he was involved in as an attorney between 2008 and his election in 1997. He allegedly used some of the money to fund a failed bid for Brooklyn district attorney in 2005.
Later, when Sampson learned one of his associates was charged with mortgage fraud, authorities said the senator contacted an employee in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York to find out if he was also under investigation and who the witnesses were.
Sampson allegedly told the associate that if he found out who the witnesses were, he would arrange to “take them out,” according to the FBI, which tapped the senator’s cell phone to make its case. The senator then lied to FBI agents who questioned him about the allegations, authorities said.
The news broke less than a week after Assemb. William Boyland (D-Brooklyn) was indicted on new charges of allegedly stealing money from a nonprofit to pay for self-promotional materials.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed legislation after those two arrests aimed at cleaning up the longstanding public corruption problem in the Albany statehouse.