Former NJ Port Authority Chairman David Samson — a "staunch ally" of Chris Christie — got United to schedule an extra, largely empty Friday night flight from Newark airport to Columbia, SC, where he had his weekend place (the flight returned early Monday in time for him to go back to the office). A court has now accepted his guilty plea for accepting bribes and sentenced him to one year of house arrest and four years of probation.
Samson's actions were sparked by United's cancellation of the Newark-Columbia flight, which the company said was not profitable. Samson, according to prosecutors, asked them to reinstate the flight, and threatened to withhold approval of an uncontroversial hangar lease agreement between United and the Port Authority.
Samson allegedly enlisted Jamie Fox, at the time a lobbyist for United, to help push executives to bring back the flight.
"I hope they dance to my tune," Samson told Fox, according to prosecutors. "[L]et me know if there's a way to keep the pressure on this issue: It will save me a lot of heartache."
United acquiesced to the demand and reinstated the flight, and the hangar lease was later granted.
Port Authority chief gets house arrest in airline bribery case
(Image: SSJ100 for Interjet – Interiors
, SuperJet International, CC-BY-SA)