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Disgraced Regulator Will Serve House Arrest at Infamous SC Weekend Home

David Samson, the shady Port Authority official at the center of the bribery scandal that eventually toppled former United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek, will avoid jail time.

Months after pleading guilty to his role in pressuring United Airlines officials to restart unprofitable service between Newark Liberty Airport (EWR) and Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) in exchange for favorable rulings on expansion plans for maintenance facilities at the airline’s EWR hub, former Port Authority of New York and Jersey Chairman David Samson was sentenced to one year of house arrest. The discredited public servant will serve his time at the very vacation home that inspired him to bully the carrier into resurrecting the notorious route in the first place.

The seasonal service between EWR and CAE was informally referred to as “the chairman’s flight” in a nod to the fact that the service was a blatant effort to curry favor with then-chairman Samson. The one-time Port Authority head admitted in court that he had pushed the airline to restore service to CAE, located a short distance from his South Carolina weekend house, in exchange for favorable consideration at the airline’s key Newark hub which was at the time operated and controlled by his organization.

The Charleston Post and Courier reports that Samson will no longer need to work out logistics for the commute between two East coast addresses. This month, a judge ordered the 76-year-old convict to serve his time at the summer getaway home. After a year of being restricted to his summer house, Samson is to remain on probation for four years. He is also required to pay $100,000 in fines and complete 3,600 hours of community service.

By contrast, United Airlines was forced to pay nearly $5 million in fines for their part in the bribery scandal. Controversial United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek lost his position as a result of the fallout surrounding the federal bribery investigation.

A statement from the airline announcing Smisek’s departure drew a direct line from the bribery investigation to the CEO’s abrupt exit from the company. “The departures announced today are in connection with the company’s previously disclosed internal investigation related to the federal investigation associated with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey” United Airlines officials said at the time. “The investigations are ongoing and the company continues to cooperate with the government. The company’s internal investigation and the related circumstances do not raise any accounting or financial reporting concerns.”

Samson was the only one ever criminally charged in the matter. Following a plea bargain, the convicted public official was allowed to choose his South Carolina estate known as “Rest Period” to serve his not-so-hard-time.

[Photo: AP/Julio Cortez]

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