Monday, November 03, 2014

Expired Statute Of Limitations Allows Indicted Bigshot Brooklyn Politician/Attorney To Dodge Bullet On Charges Of Illegally Snatching $440K In Surplus Sale Proceeds Held In Trust Account While Acting As Court-Appointed Foreclosure Sale Referee; Loot Left Unclaimed By Unwitting Foreclosed Homeowners; Prosecuting Fed: 'Appeal Likely'

In Brooklyn, New York, The New York Times reports:
  • The government’s case against State Senator John L. Sampson lost some of its heft on Friday when a federal judge dismissed two central embezzlement charges.

    Mr. Sampson will now probably face only eight counts, including making false statements, concealing records, obstructing justice and witness tampering, when he goes to trial early next year. The politician, a Democrat who represents East New York and Canarsie in Brooklyn, easily won his primary and is expected to be re-elected next week.

    The two dropped charges had to do with Mr. Sampson’s role as a court-appointed overseer for two foreclosed properties in Brooklyn. He was supposed to give the surplus money from the sale of the properties back to the State Supreme Court after those properties sold, which was in 1998 and 2002. Instead, the government said, he held on to the money, then withdrew it for his own use in 2008.

    If the court considered the date of the embezzlement to be 2008, which would have fallen within the five-year period of the statute of limitations for this kind of embezzlement, the charges would have stood. But the judge, Dora L. Irizarry of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, said on Friday that she sided with the defense, which had argued that the clock started ticking in 1998 and 2002.

    “The effective date of the embezzlement is the time in which the defendant did not return to the Kings County clerk” the foreclosure checks, she said.

    At a hearing last week, Nathaniel H. Akerman, a defense lawyer, argued that “the crimes were complete when the indictment says: 1998 and 2002.” It is “extraneous” and “irrelevant” how and when the embezzled money was used, he said.

    Prosecutors argued at that hearing that the funds Mr. Sampson was holding on to were not necessarily for his own use — thus he was not necessarily embezzling — until he withdrew the funds and spent them.

    A prosecutor, Paul A. Tuchmann, said on Friday that the government would most likely appeal the decision.

    Judge Irizarry said she would “welcome” clarification on the issue from the Second Circuit, because there is not much case law on how the statute of limitations for embezzlement should be applied.

    Prosecutors also asked the judge to postpone Mr. Sampson’s trial until they got an answer on their appeal. Judge Irizarry declined, saying that appeals can take a few years.

    The bizarre position of a politician running for office while under indictment was on view on Friday, as Mr. Sampson’s lawyers asked the judge to modify his travel restrictions so that he could attend a legislative conference in Puerto Rico. “It’s quite likely he’ll win his election,” Joshua N. Colangelo-Bryan, one of the lawyers, said.

    Judge Irizarry granted the request.
Source: 2 of 10 Counts Against Sampson, a Brooklyn State Senator, Are Dismissed.

See also, New York Post: Judge dismisses claims Sampson stole $440K (Allegedly Used Part Of It To Help Fund A Failed 2005 Bid To Become Brooklyn District Attorney).

Go here for earlier posts on this story.

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