No Jail Time in United Airlines Bribery Case Sentencing For Former Port Authority Chairman

J eff Smisek was relieved from his responsibilities as chairman, president and chief executive officer at United Continental back in September of 2015 due to federal and internal investigations associated with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, whose former chairman — now 77 years of age — was suspected to have allegedly used his prominent position to demand favorable treatment or personal benefit from United Airlines.

Most notably was when David Samson pressured the airline to revive a weekly direct flight between Newark and Columbia in South Carolina in 2012 — a flight which lost money for United Airlines and became known as the “Chairman’s Flight” — near his weekend vacation home so that he can have easier access to it and save himself significant time driving. He also was negotiating with the airline over a hangar it wanted to build at Newark International Airport.

Samson resigned from his position as chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey back in March of 2014; and he pleaded guilty to the charges of bribery in the summer of 2016.

No Jail Time in United Airlines Bribery Case Sentencing For Former Port Authority Chairman

Prior to being sentenced to four years of probation, Samson apologized for his actions, claiming that “his actions were an aberration in a long and distinguished career”, according to this article from the Associated Press. “Samson is a former New Jersey attorney general who headed Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s transition team when Christie was elected in 2009” and “was rewarded with the Port Authority chairmanship in 2011.”

Samson faced up to maximum of two years in prison — though his plea agreement allowed for the possibility of probation.


The ultimate fate of Jeff Smisek is still unknown at this time; but conditional upon his cooperation in the investigation, his “$28.6 million in payouts includes a $4.88 million cash severance and restricted shares that will vest early, worth $3.5 million,” according to this article written in 2015 by Caleb Melby of Bloomberg. “It also includes performance-based awards worth $19.5 million at the company’s Dec. 31 fiscal year-end. He’s eligible to receive a pro-rated portion of his annual incentive award, which paid out $2.34 million to him last year.”

Furthermore, he receives perks which include “flight benefits, tax reimbursements on those benefits, and parking privileges for the remainder of his life, in addition to the title to his company vehicle.”

Oscar Munoz was appointed as president and chief executive officer of United Airlines on Tuesday, September 8, 2015 as the replacement of Smisek.

I wonder what perks and benefits Samson is enjoying since his resignation from being chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey…

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

3 thoughts on “No Jail Time in United Airlines Bribery Case Sentencing For Former Port Authority Chairman”

  1. Rjb says:

    They both should do some hard time. Corrupt public official and CEO.

  2. John says:

    A flight attendant friend of mince said Smisek was on a recent UA flight and never made eye contact with anyone including the flight crew. She said she wanted to “spill” hot coffee on him. He was in First Class.

  3. b says:

    What does “parking benefits” for Smisek mean? Does it mean free parking in downtown Chicago or at ORD?

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