Monday, July 27, 2015

Brooklyn Pol Whose Statute Of Limitations Claim Enabled Him To Dodge Criminal Charges For Allegedly Snatching $440K Of Surplus Proceeds From Homeowners' Foreclosure Sales Gets Slammed Anyway By Federal Jury For Attempting To Cover Up His Handiwork

In Brooklyn, New York, The New York Times reports:
  • State Senator John L. Sampson was convicted on Friday of trying to thwart a federal investigation, becoming the latest New York lawmaker to face a prison sentence.

    He was found guilty of three of nine charges, the most serious of which, obstructing justice, carries a maximum term of 10 years. He was acquitted of charges carrying sentences of up to 20 years.

    Mr. Sampson, who previously served as the Democratic leader in the Senate, was also found guilty on two charges of making false statements. The jury in Federal District Court in Brooklyn delivered its verdict after six days of deliberations.

    As a result of his felony conviction, Mr. Sampson immediately lost his seat in the Legislature. He is the second state senator to be found guilty this week, after Thomas W. Libous, a Republican, was convicted on Wednesday and forfeited his seat.

    During the three-week trial, federal prosecutors argued that Mr. Sampson, 50, of Brooklyn, had embezzled state funds when he was appointed to oversee the sales of properties in foreclosure and then covered up the embezzlement. The embezzlement charges had been thrown out by Judge Dora L. Irizarry, who said the statute of limitations had passed. Prosecutors said on Friday that they would appeal the decision once it was officially issued.
    ***

    Prosecutors said the embezzlement occurred when Mr. Sampson, a lawyer, was a court-appointed referee for foreclosed properties in Brooklyn. Rather than returning the surplus money from the real estate sales to the State Supreme Court, as he was supposed to do, Mr. Sampson kept about $440,000, prosecutors said. Mr. Sampson set the funds aside for his own use, including to help his unsuccessful bid in 2005 for Brooklyn district attorney.

    In a proceeding last year, Mr. Sampson’s lawyers did not contest that the embezzlement occurred but said it had taken place so long ago that the statute of limitations had expired.

    The six counts the jury acquitted Mr. Sampson of included two counts of witness tampering and one count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice, evidence tampering, concealing records and making a false statement.

    Federal guidelines suggest a prison sentence of “north of 10 years,” said Kelly T. Currie, the acting United States attorney for the Eastern District.

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