NY Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin Arrested, Charged With Bribery Conspiracy

New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin was arrested by federal agents early Tuesday morning on bribery conspiracy charges, with the government accusing him of carrying out a campaign finance scheme to boost his failed city comptroller bid.

Brian BenjaminPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Benjamin, who appeared in Manhattan Federal Court Tuesday afternoon, allegedly took illegal campaign contributions while serving as state senator. He’s accused of working with a real estate developer and an attorney to facilitate straw donors. In exchange for the funds, Benjamin used his official authority and influence as a public official to obtain a $50,000 grant of state funds for a nonprofit controlled by the developer.

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

Public filings indicate the real estate developer is Gerald Migdol, an attorney who was charged last November with fraud, conspiracy and aggravated identity theft. Prosecutors at the time said Migdol made donations in others’ names between October 2019 and January 2021 so that Benjamin could reap more money from the city’s 8-to-1 matching funds program.

Prosecutors say Benjamin focused on “soliciting and obtaining” cash donations that were eligible for the matching program, ultimately receiving at least $2 million in public funds.

The indictment describes a Senate resolution allocating $50,000 to the developer’s educational Harlem nonprofit on June 19, 2019. Migdol’s charity, Friends of Public School Harlem Inc., was allocated $50,000 in a Senate resolution on that same day.

Benjamin also lied to win his current post as second in command to Gov. Kathy Hochul, according to the indictment.

He “engaged in a series of lies and deceptions to cover up his scheme, including falsifying campaign donor forms, misleading municipal regulators, and providing false information in vetting forms Benjamin submitted while under consideration to be appointed the next lieutenant governor of New York State,” the indictment said.

The indictment charges Benjamin with bribery and honest services wire fraud conspiracy, bribery, honest services wire fraud, and two counts of falsifying records.

“This is a simple story of corruption,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, addressing the press on Tuesday afternoon. “Taxpayer money for campaign contributions. Quid pro quo. This for that. That’s bribery, plain and simple.”

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