New York’s Democratic Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has been indicted on multiple federal charges including bribery.
Benjamin has been charged in connection with a scheme to get campaign contributions for securing a state grant.
The top state official faces multiple counts of bribery and honest services wire fraud conspiracy.
The federal authorities are accusing Benjamin of conspiring to direct state funds to a New York City real estate investor.
The illicit deal was in exchange for thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to his failed 2021 campaign for city comptroller.
“In so doing, 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 says.
Benjamin was appointed to his position by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul after she took over the state’s top job during the fallout of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s scandal.
New York Working Families Party director Sochie Nnaemeka said:
“When voters show up to the polls in June, they will have to make a decision whether they want to preserve a long-standing culture of corruption or chart a new path forward with leaders who want to do right by our communities.”
Breaking News: Brian Benjamin, New York’s lieutenant governor, was arrested in connection with a scheme to funnel fraudulent donations to a prior campaign. https://t.co/eux4n1r8Nq
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 12, 2022
BREAKING: New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has been arrested in a federal corruption investigation, U.S. prosecutors say.
Benjamin faces charges of bribery, wire fraud and falsification of records. https://t.co/HTU3F2k9vv
— The Associated Press (@AP) April 12, 2022
JUST IN: New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, whose seven months in that role has been overshadowed by probes into a previous campaign, was arrested Tuesday in a federal corruption investigation. https://t.co/fnhk5IkSdK pic.twitter.com/5lR7lcseMB
— Newsmax (@newsmax) April 12, 2022
The indictment alleges that others acting at his direction or on his behalf “engaged in a series of lies and deceptions to cover up his scheme” by allegedly falsifying campaign donor forms, misleading municipal regulators, and providing false information in vetting forms that Benjamin submitted while he was under consideration to be appointed as the next lieutenant governor of New York.
Benjamin served as a state senator from June 2017, representing northern Manhattan, until he was appointed by Hochul.
The unnamed real estate developer allegedly made fraudulent contributions to Benjamin’s failed bid to become the New York City comptroller by purportedly making donations in the names of people who had not personally funded the contributions or who were reimbursed for making the contributions, the indictment states.
Prosecutors allege that Benjamin told staff and advisers that certain contributions were collected by the developer and that on more than one occasion, Benjamin personally met with the developer to receive his contributions — even meeting on the street to collect a “bundle” of contributions.