I want candy
All of the major mayoral candidates have been spending cash at a relative steady clip; but no other candidate has managed to do so as fast as billionaire supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis. The self-financed Republican has spent a whopping $880,000 since he entered the race, including $615,332 in bills over the past two months.
What You Should Know
Outspoken State Senator Rubén Díaz, Sr. is out with another one of his “What You Should Know” missives, this one addressing the recent spate of New York legislators being arrested, a list that State Senator John Sampson joined yesterday. And Mr. Díaz, in a roundabout way, very strongly suggests there’s a racial component to federal prosecutors’ targets.
“The only thing we do know that is new in these times in New York State, is the Black and Hispanic politicians are the ones being wired and sent out to root out corruption among Black and Hispanic officials,” he said in a statement dismissing alarmist rhetoric to describe the Empire State’s corruption controversies. “I would hate to think that as Black and Hispanic leaders who are elected to represent our communities, that we would be targeted to weed out corruption only in our backyards, and that we would be held to a higher standard than the non-Black and Hispanic leaders.”
Another One Bites The Dust
State Sen. John Sampson will be arraigned Monday afternoon in federal court for his alleged involvement in a brazen embezzlement scheme, involving an elaborate cover-up and an attempt to use stolen cash to fund his campaign for Brooklyn District Attorney, investigators revealed Monday.
According to prosecutors and an indictment unsealed this morning in federal court, Mr. Sampson abused his position as an attorney supervising foreclosed properties for years and allegedly embezzled approximately $440,000 between 1998 and 2008 from escrow accounts he was charged with watching over. He then tried to use some of that money, they charged, to fund his own campaign to become Brooklyn’s top prosecutor. Further, Mr. Sampson allegedly engaged in an extensive scheme to try to hide the his illegal conduct, threatening witnesses and reaching into the U.S. Attorney’s Office to try to tamper with evidence.
Less Than Ideal Statements
The U.S. Attorney’s office is holding a press conference any moment now to detail the charges against State Senator John Sampson, who was arrested this morning for his alleged involvement in a bribery scheme. Specifically, Mr. Sampson is charged with two counts of embezzlement, five counts of obstruction of justice and two counts of making false statements.
One particularly interesting moment in the indictment, which can be viewed below, is when FBI agents approached Mr. Sampson at the end of July to ask about the alleged criminal schemes. According to the complaint, “At the conclusion of the interview, agents advised the defendant John Sampson that he had lied to federal agents, which constituted a federal crime. After being asked whether he wished to revise his statement, Sampson stated, ‘Not everything I told you was false.’”
After State Senator John Sampson was arrested for his alleged involvement in a bribery scheme this morning, the lawmaker who replaced Mr. Sampson as the head of the Senate’s Democratic conference, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, acted swiftly by stripping him of rank and privilege.
“These allegations are deeply disturbing,” Ms. Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.
Another Shoe Drops
State Senator John Sampson, who up until recently led his chamber’s Democratic conference, is set to turn himself into federal authorities today after being ensared in a bribery scandal, according to The New York Times and New York Post.
It’s unclear to what extent Mr. Sampson may have been cooperating with federal prosecutors prior to this point. His involvement in an alleged scheme with then-State Senator Shirley Huntley, who already pleaded guilty to her own charges, was revealed last week when a sentencing letter made public Ms. Huntley’s own cooperation. The Times reports Mr. Sampson be charged with obstruction of justice.
Law & Order
After a series of New York officials were arrested and charged with corruption last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo says he has the solution–or at least the first step. Accordingly, at press conference earlier this afternoon, Mr. Cuomo unveiled a legislative package aimed at curbing the problem.
“Over the past few days, there have been several charges brought against public officials; they span city and state government,” he began. “And they paint a truly ugly picture of our political landscape. I’d like to say that this is an unprecedented situation, that public corruption is a new problem. But it isn’t and, in many ways, that’s what makes it worse.”
Only a couple degrees of separation stand between Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, who was arrested and accused of corruption last week, and the infamous feud that led to the murders of hip-hop artists Tupac Shakur and Christopher “Notorious B.I.G” Wallace.
The connection begins with Khalil Abdullah, a Stevenson donor whose name and New Jersey hometown match that of a prominent cocaine trafficker who pleaded guilty in 2011. Additionally, The Smoking Gun reported that Mr. Abdullah shared an address with a celebrity hair stylist whose one-time “High Street” address is indeed the same as the contribution’s. Multiple phone calls to individuals associated with the address and Mr. Abdullah’s past reached numbers that were no longer in service.
Another Shoe Drops
Moments ago, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office announced yet another New York State elected official, Bronx Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, has been arrested and accused of taking bribes. Earlier this week, New York’s political world was rocked when corruption charges were leveled against State Senator Malcolm Smith and Councilman Dan Halloran. Mr. Stevenson’s charges will be formally unsealed at noon today.
“Stevenson is accused of taking bribes in exchange for official acts, which included drafting, proposing, and agreeing to enact legislation that would benefit the co-defendants’ businesses,” the release announcing the press conference declared. “Two of the other defendants are also charged in connection with their payment of a bribe to another Assemblyman, who was actually cooperating with the Government at the time. The charges include conspiracy to deprive New York State and its citizens of Eric Stevenson’s honest services, federal programs and Travel Act bribery conspiracy, federal programs bribery, and Travel Act bribery conspiracy.”
Manhattan GOP Chair Dan Isaacs assured his supporters in an email today that he has nothing to do with the alleged political bribery scheme that has already led to six arrests across the state.
“Nonetheless, if anyone harbors concern that there is ‘another shoe to drop’ here in Manhattan, I want to take this opportunity to reassure you that there is not,” Mr. Isaacs wrote. “Anyone who knows me and has worked with me during my involvement with the Republican Party knows that I value personal integrity over all else.”