The fate of State Senator John Sampson could be decided as soon as tomorrow. The Brooklyn lawmaker’s three-week trial on obstruction of justice charges came to a close this afternoon, and the case is now in the hands of a federal jury. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed this report.
For State Senator John Sampson, it wasn’t the crime; it was the coverup. Sampson couldn’t be charged with embezzling more than $400,000 from the sale of foreclosed properties while serving as a court-appointed referee because the statute of limitations had expired.
Instead, he faces nine charges relating to his conduct after the fact.
Much of the case relies on cooperating witness Edul Ahmad — seen in surveillance video. Ahmad lent Sampson almost $200,000 to help replace the stolen money. At this secretly recorded meeting in a Howard Beach restaurant, Sampson then instructed him to withhold evidence of the loan from investigators.
In his closing argument Wednesday, Sampson’s attorney repeatedly attacked the credibility of Ahmad, who’s in his own legal trouble in a separate mortgage fraud case, and cooperated with prosecutors in a bid for leniency. Sampson’s attorney also argued entrapment, that government investigators essentially cooked up a crime and then induced Sampson to commit it.
Another key witness against Sampson was his childhood friend Sam Noel — on the left in this old photo. Sampson asked Noel -- a paralegal in the U.S. Attorney’s office — to feed him inside information.
Prosecutors said even during the recent legislative session in Albany, Sampson tampered with trial witness Celeste Knight, a state senate staffer.
Prosecutors said, "John Sampson is predisposed to tamper with evidence and tamper with witnesses like a fish is predisposed to swim.”
Three of the charges, meanwhile, relate to Sampson making false statements to FBI agents who showed up in his driveway in July 2012; Sampson’s attorney said they never warned him that lying to them was a crime.
The jury begins deliberating Thursday morning; if convicted, Sampson will have to resign his state Senate seat.