Feds detail charges against former leader of state Senate, National Grid trying to pin down cause of underground fires, conflicting views of building demolitions in Albany

Federal prosecutors say Democratic state Senator John Sampson -- once the leader of the majority caucus in the chamber -- has been indicted on charges that include embezzlement, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to the FBI. The feds allege Sampson embezzled $440k from foreclosure sales in Brooklyn in his role as a court-appointed foreclosure referee. The indictment also alleges that Sampson, talking about a list of potential witnesses in a case involving a developer connected to Sampson, said that he would "take them out." (Allegations flow chart.) On Monday Sampson's attorney argued that none of the allegations "indicate any misuse of his office as a New York state senator." [USDOJ] [State of Politics] [TU] [YNN] [Capitol Tonight]

Andrew Cuomo on the Sampson allegations, on the Capitol Pressroom: "It made a bad situation worse ... In some ways provided more clarity and more certainty that this is the moment. This does give us a moment of reform, an opportunity." [State of Politics]

Virginia J. DeCapria -- the former treasurer for Charlton Fire District No. 1 who pleaded guilty to stealing almost $500k from the volunteer fire company over six years -- was sentenced to 3-9 years in prison and paying back the money. Among the items prosecutors say DeCapria bought with the money: iPods, laptops, plastic surgery, cigarettes, and delivered frozen food. [Saratogian] [TU] [Saratoga County DA]

Jerry Jennings after yet another fire in downtown Albany's underground electrical infrastructure: "I'm sick and tired of hearing that it's so old. If we know it's so old, fix it." A National Grid spokesman says the recent string of underground fires -- and explosions that have dislodged manhole covers -- "is certainly concern for us," and the utility is working to figure out what exactly is causing the fires. [YNN] [News10] [TU]

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The state Senate confirmed Sheila Abdus-Salaam for a spot on the Court of Appeals -- the state's highest court. [TU]

A backgrounder on Wilson Pakula, the New York State election law that allows candidates to run on the lines for multiple parties and now the subject of reform discussion (not a 70s a music group or film director). [AP/Post-Star]

Neighbors cheered -- and preservationists jeered -- the emergency demolition of 7 vacant buildings on Lexington Ave in Albany (map). [TU]

The city of Schenectady has a list of 112 properties that would be eligible for demolition if it gets a federal grant. A city official says 23 are in such bad shape that inspectors don't dare go inside. [TU] [Daily Gazette]

The top of the bell tower at St. Patrick's in Watervliet was scheduled to come down today, but equipment problems have delayed the demolition a day or two. Materials from the demolished church are being repurposed across the river at the 207 Broadway redevelopment in Troy. [Troy Record] [YNN] [YNN]

The man accused of abandoning the "railroad puppies" in Albany last fall, and leaving four dogs in a trailer without proper food in January, has been indicted on animal cruelty charges that could mean up 2 years in prison if he's convicted. [TU] [Albany County DA]

Guilderland police say a test indicated Michael Tucker -- the president of the Center for Economic Growth -- had a BAC of .20 after they picked up him in the parking lot of Stuyvesant Plaza. [TU]

State Police say a Utica man stopped on the Thruway in Rotterdam Monday for tinted windows had 26 active suspensions on his license. [NYSP]

Albany police are looking for help ID'ing a suspect from a robbery at a discount store on Central Ave. [News10]

Saratoga Springs' public safety commissioner is proposing a resolution that would require gun owners to carry their guns in a bag or case while downtown. [Saratogian]

Troy police say the man who jumped to his death from the Collar City Bridge last week was a missing Greene County man. [Troy Record]

Bike trail question in Watervliet: Along the Hudson or along Broadway? [Troy Record]

The North Colonie school district has been experimenting with "flipped learning," in which students watch video lectures at home and then work on assignments -- with the teacher's help -- in class. [TU]

A Mohonasen High School teacher is wearing the same outfit to school every day as a statement against bullying. [Daily Gazette] [YNN]

The Sagamore Resort at Lake George has opened for the season -- and will (once again) stay open year round. [Post-Star]

An engineer at the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna was recently awarded his 200th patent. [TU]

Comments

Re: the bike trail in Watervliet. A few years ago I took a Times Union reporter on a bike ride along Broadway in Watervliet to advocate for a trail extension cityside, rather than along the river.

http://blog.timesunion.com/outdoors/tales-of-new-trails-for-local-cyclists/1173/

The fact is, it would be extremely expensive to continue the path along the river, as it would require the construction of an overhanging path at points -- 787 is just too close to the river. And there are some environmental concerns as well.

The way the route is now, it's miserable and dangerous to ride your bike on Broadway. The traffic is HEAVY, the shoulder is tiny, there are sunken grates every 100 yards or so, and there's one intersection where all the traffic bears right but the bikes need to go straight.

But... a city-side, off-street trail is possible and would be rewarding.

I have to disagree with public comments like the following, posted at The Record:

"If I'm out for a ride, I don't want to be on a road in the middle of a city or town. I'll ride to the business if I need something. A riverfront bike trail should be along the river, no place else."

To me, that's a very suburban, disaggregated view of the world and of transportation modes. Not everyone uses the bike trail for recreation. (I used to commute to Albany on it). And, honestly, it won't be any more "relaxing" on a "riverside" overhanging trail that's only a few yards from 787 anyway. In fact, you would be farther away from the tractor trailers on the city side... if the trail were extended properly.

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