Ex-NY Senate leader John Sampson heads to prison

05.23.17 | Bob Price

The former leader of the state Senate reported to federal prison last week, beginning a five-year sentence.

Ex-Sen. John Sampson, D-Brooklyn, reported last Thursday to FCI Fairton, a medium-security prison in New Jersey where he will serve his prison term, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The four Senate leaders preceding the current leadership have all been convicted of crimes.

Sampson was convicted in 2015 of obstruction of justice and lying to federal agents about pocketing $440,000 from settlements when he was serving as a court-appointed referee in the foreclosure process.

He was originally charged with several counts of embezzlement, but they were dropped before trial because they were outside of the statute of limitations.

Sampson had originally been due to report to prison last month, but a federal judge delayed his sentence so he could see his daughter graduate from Columbia University last week.

He served as Senate Democratic leader for much of his party's tumultuous two-year run in the majority, rising to power following an ill-fated Republican coup attempt in 2009.

Sampson remained Democratic leader after his party returned to the minority in 2011 before he was replaced by Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, in 2012.

His conviction remains under appeal, but a federal appeals court rejected his bid to remain free until a decision is rendered.

Along with Sampson, former Senate leaders Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County; Pedro Espada, D-Bronx; and Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, were all convicted in the federal courts.

Prior to that, former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, Rensselaer County, was indicted on federal fraud charges but was ultimately found not guilty.