Deminski — Samson’s sentence a slap in the face
So let's get this straight. If you are a 54 year old photographer named John Peditto you get sentenced to 8 years in prison for growing 17 pot plants in an era when the majority of New Jerseyans thinks marijuana should be legalized. But if you are a 77 year old politically connected former chairman of one of the most wasteful, disgraceful agencies known as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey named David Samson you get sentenced to no time in jail whatsoever for federal bribery in shaking down United Airlines for setting up a special flight that benefited you.
Thank U.S. District Judge Jose Linares for this miscarriage of justice. Federal prosecutors were shocked when all Samson received was a year of home confinement, four years of probation, and community service. More on where that home confinement will be spent in a moment. But first, how did it happen? The same way he got into position to abuse such authority in the first place.
The judge was given 40 letters of support from movers and shakers including three former state attorneys general, a retired federal judge, and even former Gov. Jim McGreevey. The judge was 'swayed.' He cited Samson's lifetime of "public service." Cited his "good deeds." Also taken into account was his age and poor health. Funny how Ed Forchion's health (NJ's weedman) is never taken into account every time he is incarcerated.
As far as how tough this one year of home confinement will be? Read Charles Stiles' piece from Northjersey.com on how Samson will presumably be spending his house arrest in the lap of luxury. His column describes the very home in South Carolina (that he broke the law in setting up the "Chairman's Flight" to have easier access to) as grounds with herringbone pathways and appointed with 18th century antiques. Augusta Magazine's profile of Samson's vacation home describes, "“Next to the buffet is a French throne chair with the original needlepoint. Across the room, a French porter’s chair made of rattan tucks into the windowed alcove with a view to the gardens on the east side of the house."
So this is what passes for justice in New Jersey? All this sentence did was clear a wider path for more political corruption in this state and deepen the chasm between the haves and the havenots. Each time you pay a toll under the auspices of the Port Authority I hope you'll remember how pathetic this is.