A prominent New York state senator pleaded not guilty on Monday to embezzlement and other charges alleging he brazenly tried to sabotage a federal fraud investigation of his law practice by seeking inside information from an employee of the Brooklyn U.S. attorney's office.
Sen. John Sampson told the employee — who has since been fired — that he wanted to identify cooperators in his case so he could arrange to "take them out," prosecutors said in announcing an indictment against the former Democratic leader in the Senate.
The indictment alleges that Sampson embezzled $440,000 from escrow accounts under his supervision as a court-appointed referee for foreclosures. It says some of the funds were funneled into his losing campaign to become Brooklyn district attorney in 2005.
Update (2/4/14): NY State Senator John Sampson has now been indicted on two counts of embezzlement, five counts of obstruction of justice and two counts of making false statements to the FBI.
According to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
Beginning in the late 1990s, Sampson served as a court-appointed referee for foreclosure proceedings conducted by the Kings County Supreme Court.
As referee, Sampson controlled escrow accounts holding proceeds of foreclosure sales of Brooklyn properties. It is alleged that between 1998 and 2008, Sampson embezzled approximately $440,000 in surplus funds from the foreclosure sales of four Brooklyn properties. The prior owners of the Brooklyn properties, and other parties with a lawful interest, had a right to receive the funds allegedly embezzled by Sampson.
It is reported that Sampson indicated that he had illegally diverted the stolen funds to pay expenses arising from his unsuccessful run for Kings County District Attorney in 2005. ...