Lt. Gov. Benjamin Arrested for Bribing Investor to Redirect Thousands of Dollars to His Failed NYC Comptroller Campaign
By Yehudit Garmaise
Lt. Gov. Brian A. Benjamin, Gov. Kathy Hochul,’s second-in-command, surrendered early Tuesday morning to police after he was arrested on federal charges that while serving as a NY state senator, he bribed Gerald Migdol, a Harlem real estate investor to redirect thousands of dollars of illegal campaign contributions to a previous campaign.
Benjamin, who is scheduled to appear in United States District Court in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon, is accused of conspiring to funnel fraudulent donations to his unsuccessful 2021 campaign for NYC comptroller.
Federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are expected to announce later in the day on Tuesday the charges pressed against Benjamin.
In recent weeks, Benjamin had said he had been cooperating with investigators, who had issued subpoenas in recent weeks to the State Senate in Albany and people who had advised his comptroller campaign.
As recently as last Thursday, the lieutenant governor denied allegations at a press conference with Gov. Hochul, in which he said, “It’s not true,” and his top aides privately reassured allies that Benjamin expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing in the case.
Strong indications, however, existed that Benjamin was guilty after Migdol provided information to federal prosecutors after he was arrested in November for wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and other charges related to his associations with the lieutenant governor.
While no indication exists to show that Gov. Hochul was aware of Benjamin’s alleged criminal conduct, she took office last summer promising to end an era impropriety and corruption in Albany.
With Gov. Hochul looking ahead to a rancorous June Democratic gubernatorial primary for her first election as governor, Benjamin will likely face pressure to resign from office, however after he was designated as the Democratic Party’s nominee for lieutenant governor, his name can only be removed at this point if he were to move out
of the state, die or seek another office.