BROOKLYN (CN) - Embezzlement charges against embattled New York state Sen. John Sampson should be dropped as time-barred, he told a federal judge Thursday.
The Brooklyn senator was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2013 on nine counts, including embezzlement, lying to the FBI and obstructing justice.
He has pleaded not guilty, though his attorney Nathaniel Akerman told U.S. District Judge Dora Irizarry at a hearing Thursday: "We are not contesting the allegations."
The government's case falls apart because the first two embezzlement counts against Sampson focus on mortgages on two properties sold in 1998 and 2002, well outside a five-year statute of limitations, Akerman said.
"This is a classic case of why we have a statute of limitations," the attorney added.
Sampson is accused of failing to turn over to the Kings County Clerk overages on mortgaged property that was realized while he was a court-appointed referee charged with overseeing mortgages. By law, referees have five days to turn over such funds.
The U.S. government argued that Sampson continued to use the money for his own personal use up until at least 2008 and should therefore not be time barred.
Irizarry was not so convinced, however.
"We have a serious public policy issue here," she said, noting that the definition of embezzlement is "when the money was taken."
"It doesn't matter what the taker does with the money," Irizarry added.
The judge said she'll decide whether to dismiss those charges by Dec. 31.
Sampson, a lawyer, was first elected to the New York Senate in 1996. He made a failed bid to become district attorney of New York in 2005 but hung on to his seat this September despite the charges.
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