The John Sampson saga spills over into the Brooklyn D.A. race
The fallout from State Senator John Sampson's alleged corruption scheme is spilling over into the race for Brooklyn District Attorney.
Back in 2009 and 2010, Sampson and the Senate Democrats were represented by Ken Thompson, then a lawyer with Thompson, Wigdor & Gilly. At the time, the conference faced a inquiry stemming from an inspector general's probe of the failed Aqueduct racino deal.
In that role, Thompson helped block the release of documents sought in that investigation. Which did not go unnoticed: He was criticized last month for that maneuver by a campaign spokesman for Brooklyn D.A. Joe Hynes, who is running for re-election. A third candidate in the race, Abe George, said that Thompson's work with the Senate Democrats was a sign that he was too closely affiliated with the Democratic establishment.
All that was before Sampson turned himself in to federal authorities today to face charges he embezzled more than $440,000 to help pay off expenses from an earlier race. Sampson is also alleged to have tried interfering with a federal probe into him by seeking confidential information from an employee at the U.S. attorney's office. (The employee was later fired. Sampson said he only sought public information and explained he asked for this person's help because he was not "good" with computers.)
Today, it's Thompson who went on the offensive, using Sampson as an attack line against Hynes.
Thompson released a statement saying Hynes, not the U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District, should be bringing to light these corruption cases.
"[F]or the second time in four days, it has been federal prosecutors - not our own District Attorney - going after alleged public corruption in Brooklyn," Thompson said in a statement.
A campaign spokesman for Hynes responded, saying the Brooklyn district attorney prosecuted "a Brooklyn Democratic Chairman and Deputy Assembly Speaker, three Supreme Court Judges, and a member of the State Assembly." The spokesman, George Arzt, went on to criticize Thompson's record on this issue as hypocritical, citing his work with the Senate Democrats on the Aqueduct probe.
The money Sampson is alleged to have stolen came from his work as a court-appointed referee in foreclosure proceedings. It was the Kings County Supreme Court that appointed Sampson to this work. Back in 2007, Hynes' office successfully prosecuted Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson on felony bribery and corruption charges.
UPDATE: Thompson's campaign spokesman Evan Thies emailed this response: "It’s been 10 long years since Hynes has investigated and brought a case himself against a corrupt lawmaker—so it's not surprising that the DA is resorting to desperate attempts to distract from his failed record. A DA who calls boss VIto Lopez 'a good guy', and can't prosecute him because they’re too close is not fit to be Brooklyn’s chief crime-fighter."