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Sources: Port Authority chairman's business records subpoenaed

David Samson, the new Chairman of the Port

David Samson, the new Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, speaks during an interview in the Port Authority Manhattan offices. Credit: Carmine Galasso/

U.S. prosecutors in New York subpoenaed records related to the business interests of David Samson, the chairman of the Port Authority, according to people familiar with the matter.

Samson, an ally of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, has come under scrutiny since state lawmakers and federal prosecutors in New Jersey began probing deliberate traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. The Port Authority operates the bridge, the world's busiest.

The request came from prosecutors in the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York, according to the people, who requested anonymity because they aren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly. U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman in New Jersey is examining which of Christie's allies closed access lanes to the bridge from Sept. 9 to 12.

The Record, a New Jersey newspaper, citing unidentified sources, reported that federal prosecutors in Bharara's office yesterday withdrew a subpoena issued March 7 that dealt with Samson's involvement in Port Authority actions.

"We are not commenting on the progress of investigations," Samson's attorney, Michael Chertoff of Covington & Burling LLP, said in a statement. "There continues to be a good deal of erroneous coverage of matters pertinent to my client. That will become evident in due course."

Fishman's prosecutors have interviewed the Democratic mayor of Hoboken about her claims that Christie's administration threatened to withhold superstorm Sandy aid if she didn't back a redevelopment project involving Samson's law firm, Wolff & Samson PC. The firm, based in West Orange, N.J., represented a developer seeking to build an office tower in Hoboken.

As Port Authority chairman, Samson voted for a $256 million reconstruction of a commuter train station in Harrison, N.J., after a builder represented by Wolff & Samson proposed turning a warehouse nearby into luxury apartments, the Record reported.

A Bharara spokeswoman, Jerika Richardson, and a Fishman spokesman, Matthew Reilly, declined to comment on the probe. Steve Coleman and Chris Valens, Port Authority spokesmen, didn't respond to a request for comment.

On Feb. 19, the Port Authority formed an oversight committee to improve governance at the agency, which runs airports, bridges, tunnels and a rail system in the region.

Samson also apologized to drivers for the inconvenience caused by the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge.

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