Pol surrenders after being caught in Huntley wiretap – allegedly used insider to track criminal probe
A diagram unveiled by the US Attorney and the FBI shows John Sampson’s alleged embezzlement scheme.
New York state Sen. John Sampson was arrested by the FBI this morning and charged with using some of the $440,000 he embezzled in a real estate scheme to finance his unsuccessful 2005 campaign to become the Brooklyn District Attorney.
Loretta Lynch, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, also revealed an unusually disturbing allegation at a press conference this morning – saying that Sampson had used an acquaintance who worked for the US Justice Department to keep tabs of a criminal probe into the politico’s activities and leak information about the identify of federal informants.
“He did attempt to trade on a personal relationship with an administrative employee [of the Justice Department]…to gain information,” Lynch said this morning.
The administrative employee of the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn 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,” Lynch said.
Lynch said the embezzlement scheme stems from Sampson’s work as an attorney who also served as court-appointed referee over foreclosure proceeding in the Brooklyn Supreme Court.
In this capacity, Sampson controlled escrow accounts that held funds from the sale of the foreclosure properties.
Lynch said that Sampson is charged with embezzling some $440,000 from the foreclosure sale of four properties in Brooklyn.
It was those embezzle funds that Sampson used in part to help underwrite his campaign to become Brooklyn’s top law enforcement officer, when he ran to become the Brooklyn DA in 2005, Lynch said.
Sampson also stole $188,500 from a real estate associates after promising to pay the loan money back, the feds say.
The feds say that Sampson explained to the unnamed real estate associate that he was attempting to discover the identities of federal witnesses in the Brooklyn US Attorney’s Office’s mortgage fraud probe into Sampson’s activities, officials said.
In one ominous exchange, Sampson allegedly then 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 in official documents today.
After the feds began probing this alleged incident, Sampson allegedly tried to discourage 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.
Sampson is now in the custody of US Marshals at the detention facility inside the Brooklyn federal courthouse, where he will be arraigned by a judge sometime this afternoon.
Sampson was moved to the courthouse this morning from the FBI’s New York headquarters at 26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan.
FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said in a statement today, “John Sampson has been added to the list of recently indicted New York elected officials. We could view this as an achievement for the FBI and federal prosecutors. But we share what may well be the concern of many New Yorkers 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.’ The people of New York have a right to demand, at a bare minimum, that their elected representatives obey the law.”
Sampson told his aides over the weekend that he was preparing to surrender to the feds, reaching out to staffers to give them the news, the sources said.
The move comes after authorities last week revealed that wiretaps show an unnamed state senator — whom sources identified to The Post as Sampson — allegedly helped broker an illicit deal between Huntley and a cargo company at JFK Airport in March 2012.
As The Post revealed Saturday, the federal probe into allegedly crooked Queens and Brooklyn pols has already led to other investigations into Sampson and US Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-Queens).
According to sources, Sampson had approached Huntley — then a Democratic state senator from Queens — to intercede with the Port Authority to land the company more airport rental space. Huntley did — and netted a $1,000 bribe for her efforts, the feds said.
Sampson’s lawyer, Zachary Carter, did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
Sampson, 47, the former Senate Democratic majority leader, is already being probed by the feds as part of another investigation involving Meeks and $40,000 that Meeks received from shady real-estate broker Edul Ahmad.
Sources say Sampson also took money from Ahmad — who pleaded guilty in October in a separate, $14 million mortgage-fraud scheme.
Sampson worked as a real-estate lawyer for Ahmad.
The feds also have been said to be examining Sampson’s fund-raising.
After the feds got on to Huntley, she agreed to wear a wire to win leniency. She wore the bug between June and August.
She wound up recording nine people, including Sampson and six other elected officials, a consultant and a staffer, according to sources and court documents.
Huntley, 74, has copped to funneling more than $87,000 in taxpayer funds to a bogus charity and then using the money to splurge on lavish shopping trips with pal and state Assemblywoman Vivian Cook, who has not yet been charged with any wrongdoing.
Huntley faces up to two years in jail as part of a plea deal.