Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Racino probe targets Dems’ high rollers

  • Last Updated: 6:37 AM, January 8, 2013
  • Posted: 12:37 AM, January 8, 2013
The feds are grilling state Senate Democratic insiders as part of an explosive probe into an alleged Aqueduct casino bid-rigging scandal, The Post has learned.
Investigators are asking questions about the roles of then-Senate Democratic leaders John Sampson and Malcolm Smith and others who were accused of helping the Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG) land a multibillion-dollar casino contract three years ago, sources said.
The state ultimately rescinded the contract in 2010 amid a state inspector general’s probe into claims of favoritism. The IG’s office referred its scathing findings to federal authorities for potential prosecution.
Robert Miller
John Sampson and other Senate Dems are being eyed in Aqueduct probe.
The state subsequently selected Genting, an international gambling firm, to operate the Aqueduct slots casino.
It’s the second federal probe targeting Sampson. The Post last week reported that the former Senate minority leader is linked to a broader federal investigation into Queens Rep. Gregory Meeks and a convicted real estate developer, Edul Ahmad.
Smith, who has talked about running for mayor on the Republican line, also is being targeted as part of the Meeks inquiry, a law-enforcement official said.
FBI agents recently interviewed witnesses about the Aqueduct case who were captured on wiretaps talking to other subjects convicted on corruption charges — including ex-state Sens. Carl Kruger and Hiram Monserrate and lobbyist Richard Lipsky.
“The line of questioning was about the Aqueduct deal,” said one Senate Democratic source familiar with the case.
“They asked about John Sampson, Malcolm Smith, Eric Adams and Carl Andrews,” the source said of FBI agents. “They said, ‘What do you know about these people and their role in the Aqueduct deal?’ ”
Adams was chairman of the Senate Racing and Wagering Committee when AEG was awarded the bid. Andrews, a former Brooklyn state senator, was AEG’s lobbyist.
The Senate Democratic insider said the feds appeared to be looking at developing potential conspiracy charges for setting up the contract for AEG.
In the IG report, Sampson was slammed for tainting the process by leaking a confidential bidding document to AEG’s lobbyist, Andrews, that included the detailed plans of rival bidders.
At the time, Sampson insisted he did not leak privileged information. But the IG report dismissed his claim as “fallacious.”
Sampson declined to comment yesterday.
Meanwhile, a source told the feds that Smith boasted that the AEG casino would be his “golden parachute” when he left the Senate.
During his testimony, Smith insisted he did not play an active role in the Aqueduct selection process. But the IG report concluded that he was an AEG advocate who served as “AEG’s eyes and ears in the Senate.”
Smith, asked about the federal probe yesterday, denied any wrongdoing.
“Malcolm has committed no illegal activity whatsoever, nor has he been contacted by any law-enforcement agency in this matter,” said Smith spokesman Todd Shapiro.
ccampanile@nypost.com
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