Gov. Kathy Hochul's #2, Brian A. Benjamin, resigned on Tuesday as Lt. Gov. just hours after he was indicted over an alleged scheme to funnel illegal donations to his past political campaigns and then cover it up.
"While the legal process plays out, it is clear to both of us that he cannot continue to serve as lieutenant governor," wrote Hochul in a statement. "New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in their government, and I will continue working every day to deliver for them."
In a five-count indictment that was unsealed on Tuesday, Benjamin is accused of conspiring to direct $50,000 in state funds to a charity run by a Harlem real estate developer while Benjamin was a state senator. The developer, in return, orchestrated thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions for his 2021 bid for NYC comptroller as well as his Senate campaign.
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New York's Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin was arrested Tuesday morning after he was indicted on five counts which include bribery, fraud and falsification of records in a scheme to funnel illegal donations to a previous campaign, according to the New York Times.
The five-count indictment accused Mr. Benjamin of conspiring to direct state funds to a Harlem real estate investor in exchange for orchestrating thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to Mr. Benjamin’s unsuccessful 2021 campaign for New York City comptroller. -NY Times
"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," said prosecutors in the indictment. The investor, meanwhile, was arrested on federal charges in November.
Benjamin, Gov. Kathy Hochul's #2, surrendered to federal authorities Tuesday morning.
The indictment followed a joint investigation by the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, the city's Department of Investigation and the FBI.
Benjamin admitted to The Post that he was interviewed in connection with the conspiracy and wire fraud charges filed in November against Harlem landlord and lawyer Gerald Migdol, who’s accused of making illegal, “straw” donations to Benjamin’s campaign.
In November, Migdol was arrested for allegedly orchestrating a scheme to funnel illegal campaign contributions to Benjamin’s unsuccessful 2021 bid.
Migdol made contributions by money order in names that were not his own and reimbursed donors who gave money to a comptroller candidate from 2019 to 2021, according to the indictment. -NY Post
Benjamin also allegedly "engaged in a series of lies and deceptions to cover up the scheme," which included the falsification of campaign donation forms, misleading NYC authorities, and giving false information as part of a background check when he became lieutenant governor last year.
According to the report, there is no indication that Gov. Hochul knew of Benjamin's alleged crimes, which prosecutors say occurred when he was a state senator.