Brooklyn state Senator John Sampson was convicted of three of the nine counts against him Friday, including obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents. Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
John Sampson has been a state senator representing Brooklyn for almost 20 years. At one time, he was the Senate's leader when Democrats held a majority.
Now, he has a new title: convicted felon.
"Today's jury verdict reaffirms the fundamental principle that no one is above the law," said Kelly Currie, the acting U.S. attorney in New York's eastern district.
Sampson admitted to embezzling more than $400,000 from the sale of foreclosed properties while serving as a court-appointed referee. But that crime was so long ago, the statute of limitations had expired. His charges related instead to the cover-up.
Sampson sought to replace the money he stole by taking a nearly $200,000 loan from businessman Edul Ahmad. But Ahmad, who was also in legal trouble, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. In a secretly recorded meeting, Sampson seemingly coached him to lie and withhold evidence of the loan from investigators.
Jurors, though, said Sampson was entrapped and found him not guilty on six of nine counts, with the forewoman saying Ahmad was not a credible witness, saying, "He's dirty. He's dirty."
"What the jury's verdict showed was that at no time during Mr. Sampson's career as a public servant and as a state senator, did he ever use his office to benefit himself or anyone else other than the people of his district," said Nick Akerman, Sampson's attorney.
Still, Sampson faces serious prison time.
"We believe that the applicable guideline range, the advisory guideline range, is north of 10 years," Currie said.
No date was set for Sampson's sentencing. He is free on bond and due back here in federal court on November 23 for post-trial motions. In the meantime, he automatically loses his state senate seat, which means a special election will have to be held to replace him.