New York politicians have had their fair share of scandal in the past few years. For example, former Governor Andrew Cuomo was forced to resign after a lengthy period of accusations and investigations.
Now, yet another high-profile official is in trouble with the law. This has resulted in an arrest and several concerning charges, including an alleged “cover-up.”
Prosecutors aren’t pulling any punches, either, so we could be looking at some very stiff penalties.
As reported by multiple sources this week, beginning with the Daily News and New York Times, Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has surrendered to authorities, according to two people close to the situation.
The charges are related to campaign finance fraud, but there are other offenses as well. And in fact, prosecutors claim it’s a far-reaching “scheme” that ran between 2019 and 2021.
As usual, money lies at the heart of the matter and in this case, Lt. Gov. Benjamin may have found a way to gather fraudulent donations.
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Via NBC New York:
New York Lieutenant Gov. Brian Benjamin was indicted for alleged bribery and other offenses, as part of what federal prosecutors say was a ‘scheme’ to get campaign contributions in exchange for a $50,000 state grant.
The indictment also alleges that Benjamin and others worked to ‘cover up’ the plot, engaging ‘in a series of lies and deception.’
The court filing shows that for a couple years, Benjamin initiated and conducted this plan while he was a state senator, and a candidate for state comptroller.
There was a behind-the-scenes trade going on, allegedly:
The prosecution says Benjamin solicited campaign funds from a real estate developer and in exchange, he doled out funds – including a $50,000 state grant – to the developer’s non-profit group.
The long-running case saw the FBI investigating Benjamin for potential campaign fraud and now, subpoenas have already been issued.
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Perhaps ironically, Cuomo’s replacement, current Gov. Kathy Hochul, appointed Benjamin to his current post in 2021. Shortly after that the investigation into his finances kicked off.
Benjamin likely saw the handwriting on the wall and surrendered because his fundraiser, Gerald Migdol, had already been arrested last year. He too is charged with wire fraud linked to Benjamin’s fundraising efforts.
At the time of Migdol’s arrest, the Lt. Gov’s office reacted by saying that “Neither Benjamin nor his campaign are being accused of any wrongdoing and they are prepared to fully cooperate with authorities.”
They added that when the campaign realized the funds had been “improperly sourced,” they donated them to the Campaign Finance Board.
However, this explanation doesn’t appear to be holding any water with federal prosecutors. Benjamin will now have to come before a Manhattan court and defend his actions, and again, the consequences could be steep.