New York Lieutenant Gov. Brian Benjamin surrendered to authorities on Tuesday after he was indicted by federal prosecutors on charges of bribery, conspiracy, wire fraud and falsification of records.
According to prosecutors, Benjamin concocted a “scheme” to get campaign contributions in exchange for a $50,000 state grant.
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The indictment also alleges that Benjamin and others worked to “cover up” the corrupt plot, engaging “in a series of lies and deception.”
The investigators also looked into whether Benjamin helped dole out state money to contributors and/or their projects as part of the alleged fraud.
Fox reports: According to the indictment, from 2019 through 2021, Benjamin carried out the scheme while he was a state senator and a candidate for state comptroller.
During that time, Benjamin allegedly solicited campaign donations from and to be raised by a real estate developer, win exchange for appropriating state funds for the developer’s non-profit organization.
In order to hide this, the indictment says, Benjamin allegedly falsified campaign donor forms, and in 2021 when he was being vetted for the lieutenant governor job, he provided falsely stated in that he had never “directly exercised” his authority as an official “concerning a matter of a donor [he] directly solicited.”
Benjamin is facing charges of bribery, conspiracy, honest services wire fraud, and falsification of records. The various offenses carry maximum penalties ranging between five and 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors are also seeking forfeiture of the funds involved or, alternatively, “any other property of the defendant up to the value of the forfeitable property.”
Damian Williams,, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York is expected to address the case at a press conference Tuesday afternoon, along with officials from the FBI and the New York City Department of Investigation.