By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. attorney for the Eastern District Loretta Lynch on Monday announced an indictment against Brooklyn state Senator John Sampson.
Sampson, 47, is charged with two counts of embezzlement, five counts of obstruction of justice and two counts of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A state senator for 16 years, Sampson represents the 19th Senatorial District, which encompasses Canarsie, East New York, Spring Creek, parts of Brownsville, Georgetown, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin, Mill Island, Flatlands, Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay.
It is alleged that Sampson, an attorney, embezzled approximately $440,000 from approximately four foreclosed Brooklyn properties where he served as the court-appointed referee responsible for controlling the escrow accounts that held the proceeds from the foreclosure sales. Sampson breached “fiduciary duties,” the indictment reads, by depositing the funds in his personal bank account.
In New York, if a foreclosed property is sold above and beyond the sale price and all outstanding mortgages are satisfied, any such surplus must be deposited with the county clerk. The prior owners of the foreclosed property have the right to receive the surplus funds. Sampson supposedly never turned over surplus funds to the Kings County Clerk and prevented prior owners from receiving monies they were entitled to.
It is further alleged that Sampson told an associate that he was attempting to identify cooperating witnesses to arrange to “take them out.”
“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,” Lynch stated. “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.”
When questioned by the FBI, Sampson repeatedly stated that he lacked any “recollection” of his fraudulent acts. Having been confronted with the fact that he was lying to the FBI, Sampson stated “Not everything I told you was false.”
Sampson is not the first Brooklyn politician to find himself or herself caught in scandal in the past few months. In March, Assemblyman William F. Boyland was federally charged with mail fraud. Boyland, the allegations state, fraudulently submitted New York State Assembly Member Travel Vouchers, falsely saying claimed to be in Albany on legislative business when he in fact not there.
Relying on Boyland’s fraudulent vouchers, New York state paid Boyland tens of thousands of dollars in mileage expense and per diem payments, the allegations claim. This past Friday, the federal government disclosed a new element to Boyland’s charges: Boyland allegedly used funds from a publicly funded charitable organization for his own political benefit.
“John Sampson has been added to the list of recently indicted New York elected officials,” said FBI assistant director-in-charge George Venizelos. “Elected officials are referred to as ‘public servants,’ and that should not be confused with ‘self-serving,’ he continued. “ The people of New York have a right to demand, at a bare minimum, that their elected representatives obey the law.”
If convicted, Sampson faces up to 10 years of imprisonment for each embezzlement charge, up to 10 to 20 years for obstruction of justice, and up to five years for each false statement made to the FBI.