Brooklyn State Senator John Sampson pleaded not guilty Monday to a list of corruption charges including obstruction of justice and embezzlement, all of which are tied to an FBI led investigation into mortgage foreclosure dealings in the borough.
State Sen. John Sampson is accused of embezzling about $440,000 to fund his failed run for Brooklyn District Attorney in 2005.
Federal prosecutors say he tried to cover up his tracks. But when he suspected federal prosecutors were taking a look at his activities Sampson tried to get an administrative employee at the U.S. Attorney's Office to give him confidential information, including telling him whether he was under investigation.
"If there is money out there and he feels there is a need for it, he will rationalize it and justify it," Eastern District U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said. "The fact that he was in fact trying to become the top state prosecutor in this borough I think shows the extreme arrogance and hubris that is involved in this case."
Sampson pleaded not guilty to the charges. He was released on a $250,000 bond.
He did not speak to reporters after his arraignment, but his lawyer Zachary Carter did.
Carter argued that even though Sampson is accused of embezzling money to bankroll a political campaign, he is not being charged with corruption.
"This is an ordinary case that has been given an official corruption coat of paint," Carter said. "I believe that is unfair and prejudicial."
Until recently, Sampson was one of the highest ranking politicians in Albany. He had led the Democratic Conference in the state Senate and was at one time the Minority Leader.
He is also a former chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee.
Sen. Andrew Stewart-Cousins, the current Senate Minority Leader, said she was stripping Sampson of his leadership positions and committee assignments.
Federal prosecutors announced in court that they are offering the Sampson a plea deal.
If he pleads guilty to two of the nine counts he is charged with he will face about three to four years in prison.