Christie mentor avoids prison time in United bribery scandal by David Porter, The Associated Press Posted Mar 5, 2017 7:49 am MDT Last Updated Mar 6, 2017 at 4:20 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email FILE ‚Äì In this July 22, 2014, file photo, United Airlines jets wait at gates at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J. David Samson, who resigned as chairman of The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey in March 2014, is scheduled to be sentenced Monday, March 6, 2017, after he pleaded guilty July 14, 2016, to bribery for using his post to get United Airlines to run money-losing direct flights between Newark, N.J., and Columbia, S.C., saving him an hour’s driving time to his weekend home. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File) NEWARK, N.J. – The former head of one of the nation’s most powerful transportation agencies and a longtime mentor to Gov. Chris Christie was sentenced Monday to four years’ probation and home confinement for pressuring United Airlines to reinstate a money-losing flight route to give him easier access to his weekend home.Many in the courtroom sat stunned as U.S. District Judge Jose Linares imposed a sentence that will allow David Samson, former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, to serve his year of home confinement likely at the South Carolina residence that was the object of the scheme that landed him in court.Samson, 77, who pleaded guilty to bribery last year for the backroom deal, could have faced as much as two years behind bars under his plea agreement. He and Christie have been close for years, and he headed Christie’s transition team after Christie’s 2009 election. Christie appointed him to the Port Authority in 2011.Linares told the packed courtroom that the volume of letters he received from high-ranking public officials in support of Samson — including from former Gov. Jim McGreevey and three former state attorneys general — helped sway him to impose the lighter sentence.While Linares called Samson’s crime “a complete abuse of power” and said the details “befuddle the mind,” he said Samson “is entitled to some credit for a lifetime of good work and public service.” The damage to his reputation “has a punitive aspect to it, which affects people like Mr. Samson very severely,” Linares added.Samson left the courthouse without commenting. During brief remarks to Linares, he was contrite.“I know I violated the law and violated my own standards of right and wrong,” he said. “I deeply apologize. First and foremost to this court, and I apologize to my family and friends and I apologize to the public to whom I owed much better.”During the sentencing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Vikas Khanna urged Linares to impose a harsher sentence and said probation would “send a loud and clear message that even brazen acts of corruption like this one wouldn’t really be punished at all.”Afterward, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said he was “obviously unhappy” with the sentence.“The message we wanted to send to the public is when people abuse the public trust they’re going to be punished appropriately,” he said. “In this particular instance the court was moved, obviously, by the fact Mr. Samson has had a long and distinguished career at the bar in New Jersey, lots of incredibly important public service, and ultimately the court found that more persuasive than the need for general deterrence.”Linares also sentenced Samson to 3,600 hours of community service and imposed a $100,000 fine.According to court filings, Samson wound up saving roughly an hour’s driving time by flying into Columbia, South Carolina, to his home in Aiken instead of from Charlotte, North Carolina. United discontinued the flight shortly after Samson resigned in early 2014.Samson began to lobby for the flight almost as soon as he became chairman, Khanna told the judge. United agreed to revive the flight at a time it was seeking a deal with the Port Authority for a new hangar at Newark Liberty International Airport.“He wasn’t lobbying United for something New Jersey residents were clamouring for or something the Port Authority needed,” Khanna said. “He asked one of the world’s largest airlines to create a flight route just for him.”United Airlines was fined more than $2 million, and then-CEO Jeff Smisek and two other high-ranking United officials were forced out in September 2015.The Port Authority oversees billions of dollars in assets and revenues and operates the New York area’s major airports as well as bridges, tunnels, ports and the World Trade Center. Revelations about what was jokingly dubbed “the Chairman’s Flight” came on the heels of the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal, which culminated in the criminal convictions of two former Port Authority officials in a political retaliation plot.Samson wasn’t charged in that scandal, though the scheme’s admitted mastermind testified Samson knew about the plot before it was put into action.
Junior forward Darik Angeli (10) races to the puck during a game against Penn State Feb. 1 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 5-2.Credit: Alexis Hill / Lantern photographerAs much fun as it is to get points on the road in another team’s arena, there’s still nothing quite like the buzz of a home crowd.That’s the opinion of Ohio State men’s hockey coach Steve Rohlik, whose team (14-9-3, 4-5-3) is slated to return home this weekend for a series against No. 8 Wisconsin (16-8-2, 7-4-1).“It’s great to get back home,” Rohlik said. “It’d be a phenomenal atmosphere if we can continue to get all our students and all our people out here at the game. I think it makes a world of a difference.”In their five home conference games, the Buckeyes are 3-1-1, averaging a crowd of more than 6,000 fans. The fans in attendance this weekend get to watch the Buckeyes match up against a Wisconsin team fresh off a sweep of then-No. 1 Minnesota.The No. 23 Buckeyes and Badgers split their series in Madison Jan. 24 and 25, so Rohlik knows just how tough an opponent Wisconsin is.“They don’t beat themselves and they’re very well coached,’ Rohlik said. “They’re a very, very good hockey team, one of the best teams out there in the country.”OSU’s two come-from-behind shootout victories last weekend against Michigan State pushed it to within five points of this weekend’s visitors in the Big Ten standings, and freshman forward Nick Schilkey said the team knows it has a big opportunity this weekend.“We’re right behind the top teams in the standings,” Schilkey said. “It’s really just a matter of if we can take advantage of the situation we’ve put ourselves in.”That situation has come to fruition because of a multitude of factors, one being OSU’s free-scoring offense which is the best in the Big Ten, with the Buckeyes averaging 3.5 goals per game. Part of that scoring has come from an impressive power play unit that has scored 27 goals, three more than the next-best team in the conference.Junior forward Tanner Fritz, one component of the power play, said one of the unit’s biggest keys to success has been teamwork.“We do everything as a unit out there, it’s five guys so one guy’s not trying to do it by himself,” Fritz said. “We’re doing well in key situations, which is huge, so hopefully we can keep doing well on the power play because it’s going to win us games.”With the Buckeyes on a five-game unbeaten run — a streak that began with their 3-1 win over Wisconsin Jan. 25 — Fritz said he thinks it’s just a matter of maintaining a high level of performance if they’re going to take any points off the Badgers.“We definitely know we can beat (Wisconsin),” Fritz said. “We’ve just got to stick to our game plan and do it together as a team and hopefully we can get two wins.”The two teams are set to battle Friday at 7:05 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m. Friday’s game also features the fourth-annual Teddy Bear Toss, where fans are encouraged to bring new stuffed animals to throw on the ice during the first intermission, with all the bears being donated to Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House.