News Americas, BROOKLYN, NY, Mon. July 27, 2015: The lawyer for Caribbean-American New York lawmaker, John Sampson, has vowed to appeal his client’s conviction.
Nathaniel H. Akerman, one of Sampson’s lawyers, insists that they are “going to pursue all of our legal rights in this case until Mr. Sampson is finally vindicated.”
Sampson, a Guyanese-American elected New York State Senator was on Friday convicted of obstruction of justice and false statements in a Brooklyn federal court following a month-long trial.
A federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, returned guilty verdicts against New York State Senator John Sampson, for one count of obstruction of justice and two counts of making false statements to federal agents.
When sentenced by United States District Judge Dora L. Irizarry, Sampson faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The evidence at trial and publicly filed documents in the case established that, among other things, Sampson, as an attorney practicing in Brooklyn, embezzled funds he held in escrow from the sale of real estate properties. Concerned that his theft might be discovered by law enforcement, in 2006 Sampson asked an associate for $188,500 to replenish the stolen funds. In exchange, Sampson used his position as a Senator to assist the associate’s real estate business interests.
In the summer of 2011, the associate was arrested and charged by this office with bank and wire fraud. Sampson feared that the associate might cooperate with the government and disclose Sampson’s embezzlement, so Sampson contacted a close personal friend, who was also a supervisory paralegal in this office, and asked him to find out if Sampson was under investigation and to obtain confidential information about the associate’s case, including the identities of cooperating witnesses. The paralegal agreed and reported his findings to Sampson.
Sampson told his associate about his source and added that if they could determine the identities of cooperating witnesses in the associate’s case, they could “take them out.” Sampson also suggested that they hire a private investigator to do the “dirty work.”
Sampson then directed his associate to withhold from the government evidence regarding the $188,500 payment. At a February 2012 meeting, the associate told Sampson that the government had subpoenaed the associate’s business records, including a check register page documenting the payment. The Associate showed the page to Sampson, who examined it and stated, “That’s a problem . . . I mean for me.” Sampson kept the page and instructed his associate not to disclose it to the government.
On July 27, 2012, FBI Special Agents interviewed Sampson, and he denied being familiar with the check register page. Sampson also falsely denied directing his Senate staffers to take certain actions relating to regulatory issues for a liquor store in which Sampson held an ownership interest. At the conclusion of the interview, the agents advised Sampson that he had lied to federal agents, which constituted a federal crime. When asked whether he wished to revise his statement, Sampson stated, “Not everything I told you was false.”
“Today’s verdict stands as a vindication of the efforts of this office and the FBI to aggressively root out corruption undertaken by a public official in New York,” stated Kelly T. Currie, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York on Friday, July 24, 2015. “Sampson, a lawyer, New York State Senator, Senate leader, and one time chair of the Senate Ethics Committee, abused his power and violated his oath undermining the very system of laws he was sworn to uphold. He will now be held accountable for his crimes.”
Since 1997, Sampson has served in the New York State Senate representing the 19th Senate District in southeastern Brooklyn. From June 2009 to December 2012, Sampson was the leader of the Democratic Conference of the Senate, and from January 2011 to December 2012, he was also the Senate Minority Leader. Sampson has also served as the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.