Sunday, May 22, 2022

New York’s lieutenant governor indicted in federal bribery case


New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigned Tuesday evening after he was arrested earlier in the day and charged in a federal bribery conspiracy case involving alleged fraudulent donations to a New York City comptroller run last year.

Benjamin pleaded not guilty at a brief arraignment in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona Wang and was released on a $250,000 bond. Shortly after 5 p.m., Gov. Kathy Hochul said he had resigned amid growing calls that he step down from Democrats and Republicans.

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“I have accepted Brian Benjamin’s resignation effective immediately,” she said in a statement. “While the legal process plays out, it is clear to both of us that he cannot continue to serve as lieutenant governor. New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in their government, and I will continue working every day to deliver for them.”

The resignation, though, doesn’t rid Hochul of her hand-picked second in command. Benjamin is still on the June 28 primary ballot and, as of now, both are seeking full four-year terms after stepping into their roles last year following the resignation of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Democrats run separately in the June primaries, but would run as a team in November if they make it to the general election. And there are few options to get him off the ballot at this point.

Benjamin, 45, is accused of conspiring to direct $50,000 of state funds to a Harlem real estate investor in order to get the developer to ship illegal campaign contributions to Benjamin’s unsuccessful 2021 comptroller campaign. The Times reported the indictment is the result of a federal investigation that has gone on for more than a year when Benjamin was a state senator from Harlem.

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

The developer, Gerald Migdol, was indicted in November on charges of making straw donations to Benjamin’s city comptroller campaign, and the Daily News earlier this month said Benjamin had been subpoenaed by Manhattan prosecutors in relation to Migdol before his selection as lieutenant governor.


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