New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin Arrested for Conspiracy to Commit Bribery

New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin has been arrested for conspiracy to commit bribes while serving as a state senator.

Mr. Benjamin surrendered early Tuesday following an indictment relating to a federal bribery conspiracy. The alleged scheme involved transferring fraudulent donations to a previous campaign, The New York Times reported.

The indictment and arrest come after an investigation by the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Mr. Benjamin faces allegations that he directed public funds to a real estate investor in Harlem in exchange for funneling thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to Mr. Benjamin’s failed campaign last year for the New York City Comptroller. The investor was arrested in November last year on federal charges.

The US Attorney’s Office confirmed that Mr Benjamin had been arrested for “corruption and other misdemeanors”.

“Benjamin abused his authority as a New York State senator, engaging in a scheme of bribery using public funds for his own corrupt purposes,” prosecutors said in the indictment. .

They also said Mr. Benjamin “engaged in a series of lies and deceptions to cover up the scheme,” such as fabricating donation forms, deceiving New York authorities and providing false information during from his background check to become lieutenant governor last year.

The career of New York Governor’s second-in-command, Kathy Hochul, is now in question, shortly after Ms Hochul left the post of lieutenant governor last year when former governor Andrew Cuomo resigned in amid allegations of sexual misconduct. New Yorkers will head to the polls later this year.

There is no indication that Ms. Hochul was aware of the allegations against Mr. Benjamin, according to The temperature.

But when she took office last year, she promised to end inappropriate behavior in Albany, the New York state capital. The appointment of Mr. Benjamin, 45, was one of his first major decisions as governor. He is due in court later on Tuesday.

Mr Benjamin will likely be asked to resign from his post, but even if he does, he will likely remain in the primary ballot in June, when he faces two opponents. Because he was nominated as the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, he cannot be removed from the ballot unless he leaves the state, campaigns for another office, or dies.

Just last week, Mr Benjamin and his aides privately told allies they believed he would be cleared of any wrongdoing, according to The temperature.

There are indications Harlem investor Gerald Migdol began sharing information with investigators after he was arrested on multiple counts, including wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Prosecutors said in a November indictment that Mr. Migdol began directing fraudulent campaign donations to Mr. Benjamin in October 2019 – a month after he filed paperwork to run for comptroller. Prosecutors accused Mr Migdol of making straw donations on behalf of people who disagreed with them, such as his 2-year-old grandson, as well as reimbursing people for making donations .

Although prosecutors did not name Mr. Benjamin at the time and did not state a motive for Mr. Migdol, they said the plan was structured to help the candidate take advantage of the matching funds program from the New York public campaign, earning him tens of thousands of dollars in additional campaign funds.

A photo posted to Facebook by Mr. Migdol on September 13, 2019 shows Mr. Benjamin, then a state senator, presenting a check to Mr. Migdol for $50,000 payable to Friends of Public Schools Harlem Inc – the Mr. Migdol’s charity.

The funds were appropriated as part of a state education fund, but it is unclear whether the money was disbursed.

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