U.S. Attorney Robert Capers, outside the Federal Court in Brooklyn, announced former New York State Senator John Sampson was sentenced to five years of incarceration following his conviction at trial of obstruction of justice in connection with his efforts to interfere with a federal criminal case against a close associate who had given Sampson an undisclosed $188,500 loan that Sampson never repaid. Sampson was also convicted of two counts of making false statements to agents of the Federal Bureau Investigation.
Earlier today in federal court in Brooklyn, former New York State Senator John Sampson was sentenced to five years of incarceration following his conviction at trial of obstruction of justice in connection with his efforts to interfere with a federal criminal case against a close associate who had given Sampson an undisclosed $188,500 loan that Sampson never repaid. Sampson was also convicted of two counts of making false statements to agents of the Federal Bureau Investigation. As part of the sentence, the court also imposed a fine of $75,000. Today’s proceeding was held before United States Chief District Judge Dora L. Irizarry.
The sentence was announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, FBI, New York Field Office.
“John Sampson abused his position as a member of the State Senate and as a member of the bar,” said United States Attorney Capers. “He repeatedly broke the law and then compounded those offenses by obstructing a federal criminal investigation. By his actions, Sampson showed that he was not fit to hold office as a state legislator or practice law. He has now been held to account for his criminal conduct.” Mr. Capers commended the FBI for its outstanding work and expressed his grateful appreciation to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of the Inspector General; the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice; and the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice for their assistance in this case.
“Corrupt activity on behalf of our elected officials leaves the public feeling betrayed. Those responsible for upholding the law shouldn’t be the ones breaking it. Although this chapter ends today, the FBI will continue the very important work of investigating public corruption in all its many forms,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.
From 1997 until his conviction by a jury on July 24, 2015, Sampson 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 June 2009 to December 2010 he was effectively the leader of the Senate. From January 2011 to December 2012, he was the Senate Minority Leader. Sampson has also served as the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Obstruction of Justice
As established at trial, Sampson obstructed justice by using a personal friend who was a supervisory paralegal at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in an attempt to obtain confidential law enforcement information. Specifically, Sampson requested the identity of cooperating witnesses and their statements to the government to improperly help a Queens businessman, Edul Ahmad, fight a mortgage fraud case brought by the Office against Ahmad. Sampson’s motive was to prevent the possibility of Ahmad cooperating with the government and disclosing that Sampson borrowed $188,500 from Ahmad to replenish escrow accounts from which Sampson, an attorney, had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund his unsuccessful 2005 campaign for Kings County District Attorney. Sampson never repaid the loan to Ahmad, failed to report it on his Senate financial disclosure forms as required by law, and used his Senate office in various ways to help Ahmad. At the time of his indictment, Sampson had failed to repay over $160,000 of the embezzled funds. At present, over $80,000 of the embezzled funds remains unpaid.
Sampson also endeavored to obstruct the government’s case against Ahmad by arranging for compromised counsel to represent Ahmad’s co-conspirators and by hiring a retired FBI agent to use his connections with law enforcement to obtain confidential law enforcement information.
In February 2012, when Ahmad showed Sampson a document related to the $188,500 loan and told Sampson that the U.S. Attorney’s Office had subpoenaed it, Sampson instructed Ahmad not to give the government the document and to lie to investigators about the document and the loan. He then took the document from Ahmad and kept it. As Chief Judge Irizarry found at today’s sentencing hearing, this conduct constituted witness tampering and evidence tampering. In July 2012, when FBI agents interviewed Sampson and showed him a copy of the document, Sampson falsely claimed he did not recall it.
During the same July 2012 interview, Sampson falsely stated to the FBI that he had never asked a Senate staff member to intervene with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance in an effort to resolve a sales tax liability of a liquor store he owned, in violation of the New York Public Officers law.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Integrity Section. Assistant United StatesAttorneys Paul Tuchmann, Alexander A. Solomon, and Marisa Megur Seifan are in charge of the prosecution.