Former state Senate leader John Sampson Tuesday became the latest politician to ask for a review of his corruption conviction based on the Supreme Court’s decision last week narrowing federal bribery and “honest services fraud” statutes in the case of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Sampson, a Democrat who represented Brooklyn, was convicted last year of lying and obstructing justice to cover up his receipt of money from a mortgage broker. Although he wasn’t charged with bribery, prosecutors put in evidence the favors he did for the broker as a senator, and have cited those favors in a memo calling for more than 7 years in prison.
But Sampson’s lawyers, in a letter to Brooklyn U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry, said the favors — contacting state agencies and private parties on the broker’s behalf — would no longer qualify as “official acts” that could establish a bribery scheme under the new Supreme Court definition.
They want permission to seek a new trial on grounds that jurors should never have heard the prejudicial evidence, and they want to use McDonnell to respond to the government’s sentencing arguments. The sentencing of Sampson, who has urged no more than a year and a day in prison, is set for July 20.
Two of Sampson’s former legislative colleagues, one-time Senate leader Dean Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, both contend they should remain free pending appeal because their corruption convictions are likely to be overturned under the new rules established by the McDonnell case.