Remarks by FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos on Arrest of and Charges Against State Senator John Sampson
|FBI New York May 06, 2013|
FBI New York Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos prepared the following remarks concerning the arrest and charging of State Senator John Sampson:
Today, we add one more name to the ever-lengthening list of corrupt New York elected officials. We could view this as an achievement for the FBI and federal prosecutors.
The allegations in the indictment are not a complex set of facts. But crimes don’t have to be complex to be sinister.
State Senator John Sampson embezzled over $400,000 in mortgage foreclosure proceeds held in escrow accounts. Some of this money he used to fund his ambition to become Brooklyn DA.
In an effort to conceal the embezzlement, he borrowed nearly $200,000 from an associate. This “loan” was undocumented and never repaid.
The associate was subsequently arrested in a mortgage fraud case and became a cooperating witness.
Sampson used an administrative employee of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to try to learn if he was under investigation—and to try to discourage the associate from cooperating.
The associate told Sampson that he had a check register page that was evidence of his “loan” to Sampson. Sampson directed the associate to withhold this evidence from the government. In fact, in a recorded meeting with the associate, Sampson took the check register page from him.
Sampson told the associate, with regard to the check register, “Don’t say you don’t have it. Just say you don’t know. I don’t want you to lie.” But later in the same meeting, he tells the associate to say, “I don’t have it.”
Several months later, FBI agents confronted Sampson about his efforts to obstruct the investigation. He lied about using the U.S. Attorney’s Office employee to get confidential information. And he lied about the check register page.
At the conclusion of the interview with FBI agents, they told Sampson he was lying. The best he could do was the tepid defense, “Not everything I told you was false.”
The people of this city and state have the right to expect their elected officials to hold themselves to a higher standard of conduct than those they represent. At a bare minimum, the people have a right to expect and demand that their elected representatives at least obey the law.
We used to refer to elected officials as “public servants.” But then you start to tally up the number of elected officials who have been treating incumbency like the keys to the treasury. It’s clear that too many of them are self-serving and not serving the public.
I want to thank Loretta Lynch and the public corruption unit at the Eastern District for their partnership in this case and in our ongoing efforts to clean up state government.
And I want to commend FBI agents Kenneth Hosey and Erin Zacher, their supervisor Robert Hennigan, and all of the agents and analysts of squad C-14 for their outstanding work on this case.