© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former New York State Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin exits Manhattan federal courthouse following a listening to on bribery fees in New York Metropolis, U.S., Might 12, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. decide on Monday dismissed the primary prison counts within the federal authorities’s corruption case in opposition to former New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin.
U.S. District Decide Paul Oetken in Manhattan mentioned the Division of Justice didn’t allege an express “quid professional quo” between Benjamin and Gerald Migdol, an actual property developer in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, to help bribery, trustworthy companies wire fraud and conspiracy fees within the indictment.
Oetken mentioned prosecutors can pursue two falsification of information fees in opposition to Benjamin, regarding the identities of marketing campaign contributors and a background test to turn out to be lieutenant governor.
Benjamin, chosen by Governor Kathy Hochul in August 2021 for the state’s No. 2 job, resigned as lieutenant governor on April 12 when the costs have been introduced. He pleaded not responsible.
A spokesman for U.S. Lawyer Damian Williams in Manhattan declined to remark.
Barry Berke, a lawyer for Benjamin, mentioned his shopper was “grateful for his vindication” and seemed ahead to additional serving New York and his Harlem neighborhood, after what the lawyer known as the “flimsy and unwarranted” fees unfairly price him his job.
Final week the U.S. Supreme Court docket, which has grown extra skeptical of federal prosecutions of public corruption, appeared poised to impose additional limits on such prosecutions when it heard arguments in a case involving Joseph Percoco, a former aide to Hochul’s predecessor Andrew Cuomo.
Prosecutors mentioned Benjamin directed a $50,000 state grant in June 2019 to a charity Migdol ran in Harlem, the place Benjamin was then a state senator, in change for contributions to his 2020 re-election marketing campaign and unsuccessful 2021 bid to turn out to be New York Metropolis comptroller.However Oetken mentioned the federal government merely “implied” an settlement between the boys, and the awarding of the grant was not “proof” there had been one.
Migdol pleaded responsible to bribery and fraud fees and cooperated with prosecutors.
The case is U.S. v. Benjamin, U.S. District Court docket, Southern District of New York, No. 21-cr-00706.