The New York Post today said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is probing former New York State Senate Majority Leader, John Sampson following its investigation of convicted Guyanese mortgage fraudster Ed Ahmad.
Sampson is of Guyanese parentage and has visited Guyana on several occasions. He is the latest high-profile official to come under scrutiny in a web that also ensnared Queens democratic congressman Ed Meeks and convicted Ponzi artist Allen Stanford.
The Post today said that the FBI has launched a criminal probe of Sampson of Brooklyn.
The report said that the inquiry focusing on Sampson’s campaign fund-raising arises from a broader federal probe into Meeks.
According to the report, Ahmad is the common link drawing the FBI from Meeks to Sampson.
Ahmad had been embroiled in a congressional ethics probe for giving Meeks a secret US$40,000 loan believed to have been a gift.
Ahmad pleaded guilty in October in a separate, US$14 million mortgage-fraud scheme.
His sentencing date has not been scheduled and the report said that Ahmad is now cooperating with the feds.
Ahmad faces more than 10 years in jail for submitting bogus information on mortgage applications to lenders and using straw buyers to hide his role in the scam.
He also faces more than US$15 million in fines and restitution, the report said.
It added that like Meeks, Sampson has strong ties to Ahmad. Sampson was Ahmad’s lawyer in real-estate dealings and had gotten into trouble over this representation.
The report added that the New York Department of State, which licenses real-estate brokers and other corporations, had admonished Sampson for “notarizing a statement by one of Ahmad’s workers without a valid notary license, which had lapsed.”
Details were sketchy about what the federal investigators are looking for in Sampson’s campaign records, the report added.
Ahmad was a Sampson donor, contributing at least US$2,000 to the senator’s campaign, records show.
FBI spokesman Martin Feely said he could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation into Sampson or Meeks.
The report said that Sampson was questioned by two FBI agents who stopped him on a Brooklyn street outside his gym late last summer.
The Post said that Sampson has repeatedly declined its requests for comment. Through a spokesman, he declined to comment yesterday when asked again about the probe.
The FBI is continuing to probe Meeks even though the House Ethics Committee cleared him for failing for two years to report a US$40,000 loan from Ahmad that appeared to have been an interest-free gift.
The report said that the panel last month concluded that Meeks’ inaction was “inadvertent” and declined to rule on whether the loan was in fact a gift.
The revelation of the federal probe into Sampson comes two weeks after he was dropped as the Senate’s Democratic leader in a 19-6 vote. He was replaced by Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins of Westchester.
The Post report noted that in 2010, the state inspector general criticised Sampson for tainting the bidding process in the award of a contract to run the Aqueduct casino in Queens.
Sampson, then the majority leader, was cited for leaking a confidential bidding document to the lobbyist for the politically connected firm AEG, which subsequently won the contract.
The state pulled the billion-dollar contract from AEG when the Inspector General’s Office launched its probe.
In 2011, the New York Post had reported that Meeks was trying to get a cricket invitation for Ahmad to the VIP Box of now disgraced Antigua-based banker Stanford while he had been at the height of his T20 cricket extravaganza in the Caribean.
Ahmad’s plight has also raised uncomfortable questions former President Bharrat Jagdeo and the ruling PPP as he was the supplier of goods to the President at State House and also occupies the former headquarters of the PPP-aligned paper, The Mirror.