Archive for the tag 'indictments'

Source: Henry campaign.

A candidate hoping to unseat State Senator John Sampson, who is mired in legal trouble, is touting his support from district residents.

Sean Henry announced today that more than 300 voters have pledged support for his campaign, just a week and a half after campaign operations got off the ground.

“The 19th District deserves better and I’m honored the community has rallied around my campaign for State Senate over the week and a half. With the support of these first 300 residents, I look forward to building a campaign that focuses on what the community truly deserves from an elected official – results,” said Henry in an e-mail statement.

Henry is looking to take out State Senator John Sampson, who currently represents the 19th District, which spans a chunk of Sheepshead Bay, as well as Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie, Bergen Beach and Mill Basin. Sampson has been facing troubling headlines since May 2013, when he was charged as part of a far ranging corruption scandal, and he’s currently facing embezzlement charges from his role in the sale of foreclosed homes.

Henry, who last year ran unsuccessfully for City Council in the 42nd District, is a Chicago native who faced homelessness as a teenager. He joined the U.S. Army in 1995, and attended Southern Illinois University. He moved to Brooklyn in 2000 to earn a master’s in Public Administration at New York University.

In addition to homeless issues, Henry is building a campaign around affordable housing, adding seats in local schools, improving mass transportation, and securing promises to residents for Superstorm Sandy-related aid.

Henry isn’t the only one looking to unseat the embattled incumbent. Leon Miles, an advocate for the disabled, is also in the running.

Two other candidates have yet to formally announce, but are widely rumored to be seriously considering the seat: Samuel Pierre, who heads a nonprofit and is a former staffer of Sampson’s, and Dell Smitherman, a political director with healthcare workers’ union 1199 SEIU. Both are members of the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club that’s closely aligned to the county party leadership, which has not yet said if they will support Sampson’s reelection or the campaigns of one of his opponents.

Henry, Miles and Smitherman all have registered campaign committees with the state Board of Elections. Pierre does not.

Sean Henry (Source: electseanhenry.com)

Homeless advocate Sean Henry has formally announced his bid to unseat State Senator John Sampson, who is mired in legal troubles connected to corruption allegations.

News of Henry’s campaign hit Politicker yesterday, and the campaign issued a press release and launched a website this morning. Among the announcements is that Henry has already put together a professional political team, positioning himself as a serious contender.

According to the candidate’s website, Henry is a Chicago native who faced homelessness as a teenager. He joined the U.S. Army in 1995, and attended Southern Illinois University. He moved to Brooklyn in 2000 to earn a master’s in Public Administration at New York University.

Henry went to work at the Department of Homeless Services, where he worked his way up the ranks to Special Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner, and claims to have spearheaded negotiations between city agencies and private organizations on community-based housing stability services. He most recently worked as a consultant to a non-profit offering community-based services.

“Too many people in this district our struggling, and I understand what that feels like,” said Henry in a press release. “There are people living without hot, running water for weeks on end; people whose ceilings are crumbling before their very eyes. There are kids who aren’t getting the education they deserve at the schools given to them. This situation is unacceptable. The people of the 19th Senate District deserve an elected official that places their needs above all else, and that’s what I will do as their representative.”

Henry, who last year ran for City Council in the 42nd District, an election ultimately won by Inez Barron, appears to mean business. He’s hired political consultant Hank Sheinkopf, as well as professional fundraisers, an election law attorney and an experienced public relations team.

The announcement could spell trouble for State Senator John Sampson, who currently represents the 19th District, which spans a chunk of Sheepshead Bay, as well as Brownsville, East New York, Canarsie, Bergen Beach and Mill Basin.

Sampson has been facing troubling headlines since May 2013, when he was charged as part of a far ranging corruption scandal.

In March of 2012, Sampson allegedly sought out [former Queens State Senator Shirley] Huntley’s advice after being approached by a businessman allegedly offering bribes in exchange for help regarding his business at Kennedy International Airport. The airport is located in the district Huntley used to represent.

Since then the list has grown longer. It was alleged that the senator sought to silence witnesses in the case suggesting he stole more than $400,000 from the sale of foreclosed homes. Later that same month, state officials began investigating the fate of more than $39,000 earmarked for a charity for inner city youth. He is also being eyed for three cases of campaign donations that seemed to vanish from Sampson’s accounts, and allegations that businessmen who lobbied his office were charged retainer fees for duties that are supposed to be part of his job as a legislator.

Sampson hasn’t announced what his reelection bid yet, but he continues to maintain innocence in the investigations. According to Politicker, if Sampson decides to run for reelection he will have the hard job of clearing his name with the public and beating two challengers. The other challenger to the seat is Leon Miles, another former Council candidate.

Sampson (File photo)

Sampson (File photo)

The U.S. Attorney’s office unveiled an updated indictment of State Senator John Sampson yesterday, growing the list of corruption allegations to include lying to the FBI about actions his office took to benefit a liquor store, of which he held secret ownership.

Politicker reports:

The U.S. Attorney’s office today announced that Mr. Sampson, who once led the Senate Democrats, is accused of “making false statements to FBI agents about directing members of his Senate staff to take actions to benefit a Brooklyn liquor store in which Sampson secretly held an ownership interest.”

According to prosecutors, Mr. Sampson was recorded hiding his stake in an unnamed liquor store in its license application.

“During a series of telephone calls that were captured on the Sampson Wiretap, the defendant … told the Partners that [his] ownership interest should not be disclosed in the Application” today’s indictment reads.

Mr. Sampson was also recorded instructing an anonymous government staffer to help the store deal with outstanding tax obligations. The senator even appeared to be aware of the potential illegalities involved, telling the staffer to “do it on your own cell phone and do it on your own time.”

U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch’s office also accuses the senator of lying about the liquor store and his office’s involvement when speaking to federal agents.

An attorney for Sampson sought to downplay the charges, saying the senator has been “fully cooperative” in the investigation and that he “has not betrayed the public trust.”

The Sheepshead Bay portion of Sampson's district, which connects to the remainder of his district via a one block stretch. (Click to enlarge)

The Sheepshead Bay portion of Sampson’s district, which connects to the remainder of his district via a one block stretch. (Click to enlarge)

“After years of investigation and two indictments, the government has not charged Senator Sampson with a crime relating to the misuse of his public office. The new charge in the superseding indictment simply alleges an unrecorded statement to an agent of the FBI, which the government chooses not to believe, with respect to a matter for which the government fails to charge any substantive crime,” the attorney said.

Following redistricting, Sampson’s district grew to represent a huge swath of the heart of Sheepshead Bay, between Avenue Y and Avenue U, from East 14th Street to Knapp Street.

Sampson is already facing charges unveiled in May 2013, after he was recorded by former State Senator Shirley Huntley, who turned into a cooperating witness after pleading guilty to stealing taxpayer money through a nonprofit organization. In the recorded conversation, Sampson allegedly sought Huntley’s advice after being approached by a businessman offering bribes for him in his business at JFK Airport.

Sampson was also accused of stealing $400,000 from the sales of foreclosed homes, and was charged with two counts of embezzlement, five counts of obstruction and two counts of making false statements to the FBI.

It was then alleged that the senator sought to silence witnesses in the case by requesting the witness list from a friend in the U.S. Attorney’s office so that he could “take them out.”

Later that same month, state officials began investigating the fate of more than $39,000 earmarked for a charity for inner city youth. While the taxpayer funds went to the group, the nonprofit was unable to provide records for how it was spent. Shortly after the organization received the funds, its leader and Senator Sampson opened the liquor store mentioned in yesterday’s indictment, Gateway Wine & Spirits, and the charity went defunct. The treasurer of the charity said he was never made aware by the group’s leader or the senators office of the $39,560 grant.

At the time, Sampson’s spokesman said that the senator had withdrawn his stake in the liquor store and that questions about it were “moot.”

The spokesperson also made statements at the time that are contrary to allegations made in yesterday’s indictment.

Times Union reported in 2013:

[The spokesperson] said no law enforcement officials had inquired about the matter.

“Why would they?” He asked. “We’re looking for storms in teacups, I suspect. The senator did what any senator, when their constituents petition them, would do.”

The investigation continued to expand in 2013, with three cases of campaign donations that appeared to vanish from Sampson’s accounts, and allegations that businessmen who lobbied his office were charged retainer fees for duties that are supposed to be part of his job as a legislator.

A grand jury indicted Officer Diego Palacios – formerly of the 61st Precinct – on felony charges for locking up an apparently innocent Sheepshead Bay man who the officer claimed tried to run him over in his car.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes revealed the grand jury’s decision yesterday, indicting the officer on five types of lying: offering a false instrument for filing, falsifying business records, making an apparently sworn false statement, perjury and making a punishable false written statement. He was also charged with official misconduct, the New York Times reports.

Falsifying business records is a felony offense for which Palacios was charged with two counts.

Palacios arrested East 23rd Street resident John Hockenjos in February, saying on a police report that he drove his car at “a high rate of speed” towards the officer in an attempt to hit him, forcing him “to jump out of the way.” Hockenjos was charged with felony reckless endangerment and spent several days behind bars.

But surveillance video provided by Hockenjos showed that the officer was standing in his driveway when he pulled in, slowly, and that the officer never budged.

After the surveillance footage surfaced, Palacios, an 8-year veteran of the NYPD, was transferred to a different precinct and placed on desk duty. He has now been suspended.

All charges against Hockenjos have been dropped. His wife, Irena, who faced a summons for disorderly conduct, has also been cleared.

In March, Hockenjos confronted the 61st Precinct Deputy Inspector about the incident at a Community Council meeting, telling him that he now feared to call the police.

“I feel unprotected. I’m now afraid to call 911 … I’m afraid for my life,” Hockenjos said. “I can’t protect myself, commander. I can’t do it. All I can do is take pictures.”

Hockenjos’s wife Irena has called Sheepshead Bites on numerous occasions since the arrest, expressing her frustrations and fears that she cannot call police when she feels in danger around the home, and especially not for disputes emerging from their ongoing feud with a neighbor they claim is building on their property. The police have been called to the scene many times by both the Hockenjoses and the neighbor, and it was the neighbor who had summoned Palacios to the scene in February.