As the chairman of the powerful Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, David Samson had a lot of power. He could — and prosecutors said, he did — set agency meeting agendas and slow down or scuttle projects.
Pressuring United Airlines to schedule a two-round-trip-a-week flight from Newark to Columbia, SC near his vacation home — what was called in internal emails “the Chairman’s flight” — got the attention of prosecutors and led to several indictments. Top United executives lost their jobs. United paid a large fine. And Samson, appointed by Governor Christie in 2011 to the Port Authority post, faced the music today before a federal judge in Newark.
The result? No prison time.
Federal prosecutors had recommended 24 months imprisonment.
Samson will, however, face one year home confinement, a whopping 3,600 hours of community service (nearly two years of a full time schedule) and a $100,000 fine.
In pre-sentencing memoranda Samson’s lawyers claimed the former Attorney General had serious health issues and likely was in “the last years” of his life. However, Samson also pleaded guilty instead of going to trial, which ordinarily results in prosecutors agreeing to recommend less prison time.
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