NY Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin Arrested in Campaign Finance Fraud Case
( NBC )
New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has surrendered to authorities to face campaign finance fraud-related charges in connection with a past campaign, two people familiar with the matter said Tuesday.
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.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins also did not return requests for comment.
Benjamin was appointed lieutenant governor by Gov. Kathy Hochul in 2021, shortly after losing a primary bid for New York City comptroller. He previously served as the New York State Senator for District 30, which is made up of Harlem, East Harlem (El Barrio), the Upper West Side, Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights and Morningside Heights.
The investigation into Benjamin came after the FBI arrested his fundraiser, Gerald Migdol, in November. He is charged with wire fraud in connection with an alleged campaign fraud scheme linked to past Benjamin fundraising.
A lawyer for Migdol did not return requests for comment.
Following the confirmation that Benjamin was being investigated, the lieutenant governor's office referred questions to its Nov. 19 press statement issued at the time of Migdol's arrest in which it said it was prepared to cooperate.
"Neither Lieutenant Governor Benjamin nor his campaign are being accused of any wrongdoing and they are prepared to fully cooperate with authorities," it 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."
Details of the investigation were first reported by the Daily News, and subsequently the New York Times.