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New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has surrendered to authorities and is expected to face charges related to campaign finance fraud.
NBC News reported.
Benjamin is expected to appear in Manhattan federal court later Tuesday. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the arrest, nor could a representative for Benjamin.
His arrest comes after reports that Manhattan federal prosecutors and the FBI were investigating whether Benjamin knowingly engaged in a campaign finance fraud scheme. Subpoenas were issued in connection with the investigation, two sources familiar with the subpoenas said at the time.
The investigators also looked into whether Benjamin helped dole out state money to contributors and/or their projects as part of the alleged fraud.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney and a spokesman for the FBI both previously declined WNBC requests for comment regarding the investigation into Benjamin.
“Neither Lieutenant Governor Benjamin nor his campaign are being accused of any wrongdoing and they are prepared to fully cooperate with authorities,” the lieutenant governor’s office said. “As soon as the campaign discovered that these contributions were improperly sourced, they donated them to the Campaign Finance Board, pursuant to guidance obtained from the CFB.”
The New York Times reported that Benjamin surrendered to federal authorities on bribery charges.
“The indictment, the result of an investigation by the F.B.I. and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, 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, the people said,” William K. Rashbaum and Nicholas Fandos reported. “The investor was arrested on federal charges in November.”
“There is no suggestion that Ms. Hochul was aware of Mr. Benjamin’s alleged criminal conduct, which prosecutors said occurred when he was a state senator. Still, she took office last year promising to end an era of impropriety in Albany, and selecting Mr. Benjamin, 45, was among her first major decisions as governor,” they said. “Federal prosecutors and the F.B.I. were expected to announce the charges later on Tuesday, and Mr. Benjamin is scheduled to appear in United States District Court in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon.”
In November a Harlem businessman and attorney, Gerald Migdol, was arrested in connection with a donation scheme to aid Benjamin’s bid to be comptroller.
“I need you to do me a favor. I need a check for $250 for [Candidate -1]’s campaign for NYC Comptroller next year. See the attached form that needs to be filled out. Come to my office Monday if you can,” he said to someone in a message in January 2020 for a donation he later reimbursed.
New York Gov. Hochul came to power in August, when she chose Benjamin as her lieutenant governor, after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned.
“She sure can Pick m’! Amateur “Governor” Kathy Hochul’s LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR Brian Benjamin was just ARRESTED. He’s Right Now IN JAIL. Kathy picked him just a couple of months ago. BOTH are FRAUDS!” One America News host Greg Kelly said.
She sure can Pick m'! Amateur "Governor" Kathy Hochul's LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR Brian Benjamin was just ARRESTED. He's Right Now IN JAIL. Kathy picked him just a couple of months ago. BOTH are FRAUDS! pic.twitter.com/8F3A5GOWd4
— Greg Kelly (@gregkellyusa) April 12, 2022
“Last year, @Cliff_Michel broke this story for @THECITYNY on several dubious campaign donations to Brian Benjamin’s state senate campaign. Still, Hochul elevated him to Lt. Governor. Now he’s been arrested,” reporter Greg Joseph said.
Last year, @Cliff_Michel broke this story for @THECITYNY on several dubious campaign donations to Brian Benjamin’s state senate campaign. Still, Hochul elevated him to Lt. Governor. Now he’s been arrested:https://t.co/FnvdhhllFt
— George Joseph (@georgejoseph94) April 12, 2022
“As far as I understand, there is no way to remove Brian Benjamin from the Democratic ballot unless he leaves the state or dies. The deadline to replace him has passed. Awful timing for Kathy Hochul, but none of this was surprising,” reporter Ross Barkan said.
As far as I understand, there is no way to remove Brian Benjamin from the Democratic ballot unless he leaves the state or dies. The deadline to replace him has passed. Awful timing for Kathy Hochul, but none of this was surprising.
— Ross Barkan (@RossBarkan) April 12, 2022
— Ross Barkan (@RossBarkan) April 12, 2022
“As I reported for the @thenation, Benjamin was vulnerable anyway. Now it appears @AnaMariaforNY could have a really good shot at winning the Democratic nomination for Lt. Gov.,” he said.