Brooklyn state senator charged with embezzlement, other federal offenses

February 3, 2014 From U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
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An indictment was unsealed Monday in federal court in Brooklyn charging state Senator John Sampson (D-Southeast Brooklyn) with two counts of embezzlement, five counts of obstruction of justice and two counts of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

As charged in the indictment, Sampson is an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of New York, and his law practice has included legal work involving the sale of foreclosed properties. Beginning in the late 1990s, Sampson served as a court-appointed referee for foreclosure proceedings conducted by the Kings County Supreme Court.

As referee, Sampson controlled escrow accounts holding proceeds of foreclosure sales of Brooklyn properties.  It is alleged that between 1998 and 2008, Sampson embezzled approximately $440,000 in surplus funds from the foreclosure sales of four Brooklyn properties. The prior owners of the Brooklyn properties, and other parties with a lawful interest, had a right to receive the funds allegedly embezzled by Sampson.

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It is reported that Sampson indicated that he had illegally diverted the stolen funds to pay expenses arising from his unsuccessful run for Kings County District Attorney in 2005.

The federal government also charges that after an associate of Sampson’s was arrested in connection with the alleged embezzlement scheme,  Sampson engaged in a multifaceted scheme to obstruct justice, so as to prevent the associate from cooperating with law enforcement authorities and disclosing Sampson’s criminal conduct. Evidence of Sampson’s obstructive conduct includes intercepted phone calls from Sampson’s cellular telephone.

Since 1997, Sampson has served in the New York State Senate (the “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. From January 2011 to December 2012, Sampson was also the Senate minority leader. Sampson has also served as the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“The voters of New York State rightfully expect their elected officials to represent the voters’ interests, not to trade on their positions of power to line their own pockets,” stated Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District.

“As charged in the indictment, for years, Senator John Sampson abused his position of public trust to steal from New Yorkers suffering from home foreclosure and from the very county he was elected to represent…[and] allegedly stole that money to fund his own ambition to become Brooklyn’s top state prosecutor, then engaged in an elaborate obstruction scheme to hide his illegal conduct, going so far as to counsel lies and the hiding of evidence,” she said.

If convicted, Sampson faces up to 10 years of imprisonment for each embezzlement charge, up to 20 years of imprisonment for a charge of obstruction,  and up to five years of imprisonment for each false statement charge, as well as restitution, forfeiture and fines.

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