FBI Puts Handcuffs On No. 2 New York Official Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin Over Alleged Bribe

FBI Puts Handcuffs On No. 2 New York Official Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin Over Alleged Bribe


Photo: New York Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin speaks at a covid briefing at the Barclays Center, Nov. 2, 2021 in New York (NDZ/STAR MAX/IPx 2022 4/12/22)

Lt. Gov. Brian A. Benjamin, New York’s second in command to Gov. Kathy Hochul, has been charged with bribery, fraud, and falsification of records during his previous role as a state senator. Benjamin was arrested on April 12 and led away in handcuffs by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Following his arrest, he resigned from his position. He was only the second Black person to hold the post of New York lieutenant governor. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a Black woman, held the post briefly in 2021 following the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo due to sexual misconduct allegations. When Hochul took over the governor’s office on Aug. 24, 2021, she selected Benjamin as her No. 2.

Benjamin is a former state senator from Harlem who focused on criminal justice reform and affordable housing during his state legislature career. His district included most of central Harlem, where he was born and raised by Caribbean immigrant parents. According to this Twitter profile, @BrianBenjaminNY, he describes himself as the “Proud son of a Guyanese mother and a Jamaican stepfather. Husband & father of two. Lt Governor. Making sure every New Yorker has a seat at the table.”

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Federal prosecutors unsealed a five-count indictment implicating Benjamin in an effort to enrich his political campaigns with illegal donations. According to the court records, he had conspired while he was a state senator to direct $50,000 in state funds to a Harlem real estate developer’s charity. The developer donated thousands of dollars in illegal contributions to Benjamin’s 2020 Senate campaign and his unsuccessful 2021 bid for New York City comptroller, The New York Times reported.

Benjamin was also accused of offering to help Gerald Migdol, a developer, to obtain a zoning variance if he made a $15,000 donation to a separate fund for state Senate Democrats, ABC 7 reported.

Benjamin pleaded not guilty during a brief appearance in Federal District Court in Lower Manhattan. He was released on a $250,000 bond and he has to get special permission to travel to Albany, the New York state capitol.

Photo by: NDZ/STAR MAX/IPx 2022 4/12/22 Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin joins Governor Kathy Hochul during a COVID breifing and makes an announcement with the Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty at the Barclays Center on November 2, 2021 in New York.