By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, the state’s No. 2 formal after Governor Kathy Hochul, resigned on Tuesday after staying charged with bribery and fraud for allegedly directing condition funds toward a serious estate developer in exchange for marketing campaign contributions.
Hochul, who handpicked Benjamin for the lieutenant governor’s career previous August, declared the resignation a handful of hrs after the 45-12 months-old Benjamin pleaded not responsible in Manhattan federal court docket to prices in a five-rely indictment.
“Whilst the legal approach plays out, it is obvious to equally of us that he can’t continue to serve as lieutenant governor,” Hochul mentioned in a statement. “New Yorkers are worthy of absolute assurance in their federal government, and I will continue on working each working day to provide for them.”
Benjamin’s resignation is effective straight away, Hochul explained. Attorneys for Benjamin did not promptly answer to requests for remark.
Prosecutors reported Benjamin in 2019 directed a $50,000 point out grant to a non-earnings managed by the developer from the Harlem segment of Manhattan, which Benjamin represented at the time as a point out senator.
The developer then despatched Benjamin’s reelection campaign 1000’s of dollars by numerous checks in the names of kinfolk and a constrained legal responsibility business, in accordance to the indictment.
Prosecutors stated the developer also elevated income for Benjamin’s unsuccessful 2021 operate to come to be New York City’s comptroller.
“Taxpayer revenue for campaign contributions. Quid professional quo. This for that. That is corruption,” reported Damian Williams, the U.S. Lawyer in Manhattan. “Public corruption stays a trouble in New York. It is a bipartisan difficulty. It is an ongoing trouble.”
The Harlem true estate developer was not discovered by title in the indictment.
Just in excess of two months soon after Benjamin became lieutenant governor, real estate developer Gerald Migdol was criminally charged with steering illegal marketing campaign contributions to an unnamed prospect for town comptroller. Migdol pleaded not responsible.
Benjamin faces fees which include bribery, wire fraud and falsification of records. His scenario and Migdol’s are in the exact same case file.
U.S. Justice of the peace Judge Ona Wang released Benjamin on $250,000 bond, and imposed travel restrictions that still left him unable to journey to Albany, New York’s point out funds, with out authorization from authorities.
Benjamin is upcoming because of to seem in court on April 19.
The prices could complicate Hochul’s reelection bid in November.
Hochul, a Democrat who had been lieutenant governor, changed Andrew Cuomo as governor very last August, when he resigned next an inquiry that observed that he had sexually harassed 11 ladies.
She faces worries from New York City Comptroller Jumaane Williams and Lengthy Island U.S. Congressman Tom Suozzi for Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York Editing by Will Dunham and Monthly bill Berkrot)