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Plea bargain talks underway in John Sampson's case, prosecutor says

Lawyers for imprisoned former Democratic Senate leader John Sampson are trying to negotiate a plea bargain with Brooklyn federal prosecutors to resolve additional corruption charges that were reinstated by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this summer.

Sampson is serving a 5-year sentence for obstruction of justice for trying to cover up his embezzlement of $188,000 he held as a foreclosure referee, but in August the appeals court said prosecutors could pursue embezzlement charges dismissed before his 2015 trial.

“The parties are in plea negotiations and I’m somewhat optimistic we’ll be able to sort this out in 30 days,” prosecutor Alex Solomon told U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry at a status hearing on the case.

Sampson, 53, of Brooklyn, was dressed in a tan prison outfit and looked thinner and grayer after more than a year prison.

He complained to Irizarry about conditions in Brooklyn federal jail where he was brought for the hearing, telling her they “aren’t too accommodating” and asking to be sent back to the Fairton, N.J., prison camp where he is serving time.

After being told it would take two weeks to take him back and another two weeks to come back to Brooklyn, making a plea in 30 days difficult, Sampson asked if he could short circuit the onerous trip with a furlough so relatives could drive him directly to the next hearing.

“That’s not going to happen,” Irizarry said.

Prior to Sampson’s trial, Irizarry knocked out charges relating to Sampson’s alleged embezzlement because it was completed by 2002, long before the five-year statute of limitations that applied to his indictment in 2013.

The Second Circuit said there was evidence he continued to convert embezzled funds to his own use as late as 2008, so the embezzlement charges -- as well as his later efforts to cover it up -- should have gone to a jury.

Sampson was elected to the state Senate in 1996 and served until his conviction in 2015. His release date from prison is Sept. 23, 2021.

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