Corruption Charge Expected for Senator John Sampson
John L. Sampson, a state senator from Brooklyn and a former leader of the Democratic caucus, will be charged on Monday in connection with a continuing public corruption inquiry, according to law enforcement officials close to the investigation. The charges signify a broadening of an investigation that has already ensnared Shirley L. Huntley, a former state senator from Queens who has pleaded guilty to stealing taxpayer money through a nonprofit organization she was running.
Corruption Charge Expected for Senator
By MOSI SECRET and THOMAS KAPLAN
John L. Sampson, a state senator from Brooklyn and a former leader of the Democratic caucus, will be charged on Monday in connection with a continuing public corruption inquiry, according to law enforcement officials close to the investigation.
The charges signify a broadening of an investigation that has already ensnared Shirley L. Huntley, a former state senator from Queens who has pleaded guilty to stealing taxpayer money through a nonprofit organization she was running.
The charges against Mr. Sampson appear to be related to conversations he had last year with Ms. Huntley, in which he is said to have sought help for a businessman who was offering bribes in exchange for help to expand his business at Kennedy International Airport. Ms. Huntley’s district encompassed the airport.
Mr. Sampson is expected to be charged with obstruction of justice. A spokesman for the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Loretta E. Lynch, declined to comment, and a lawyer for Mr. Sampson, Zachary W. Carter, did not return calls.
But federal prosecutors discussed the matter in court papers they filed last week in Ms. Huntley’s case, having learned about it through a court authorized wiretap of Ms. Huntley’s cellphone.
The documents, filed in anticipation of Ms. Huntley’s sentencing this week, mention a state senator who arranged a meeting in March 2012 for the businessman, who was not identified.
Ms. Huntley contacted airport authorities on behalf of the businessman over the next two months, and last May he paid her $1,000 for her efforts. The businessman did not win any new contracts, according to court documents.
The senator was not identified in the court documents, but a person with knowledge of the case said it was Mr. Sampson.
Ms. Huntley subsequently wore a recording device in cooperation with the government, making secret recordings of seven elected officials and two others who did not hold office. Prosecutors said some of those recordings yielded useful evidence. It is not clear if others besides Mr. Sampson will be charged.
Mr. Sampson previously drew scrutiny for his relationship with Edul Ahmad, a Queens real estate broker whom he represented as a law client. Mr. Ahmad pleaded guilty in federal court in October to a mortgage fraud scheme and has been the focus of a loan scandal involving Representative Gregory W. Meeks, a Queens Democrat.
Mr. Sampson was first elected to the Senate in 1996. Democrats selected him as their leader in 2009 in an effort to resolve a leadership coup that paralyzed the Senate. Mr. Sampson’s time as leader was at times volatile, with a series of scandals and other embarrassing episodes involving Senate Democrats. In 2010, the state inspector general said Mr. Sampson and other Senate leaders had manipulated the bidding process for the right to build a casino at the Aqueduct racetrack.
Republicans regained control of the State Senate in the 2010 elections, and a group of Democrats led by Mr. Sampson’s former deputy, Jeffrey D. Klein of the Bronx, later defected from the caucus. Mr. Klein said he had lost confidence in Mr. Sampson’s leadership, and after last year’s elections, Mr. Klein and his fellow defectors formed a coalition with Republicans to control the Senate, even as Democrats hold a numerical majority.
In December, Mr. Sampson volunteered to step down as Democratic leader if Mr. Klein and his group would return to their caucus. Mr. Klein rejected the offer. Later in December, Democrats voted to oust Mr. Sampson as their leader.
He is now the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.