NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – A federal judge on Monday dismissed bribery and fraud charges against a former New York state lieutenant governor but upheld charges of falsifying records.
Judge J. Paul Oetken determined that the prosecution failed to prove a single specific incident where Brian Benjamin received payments in exchange for political favors.
The Democratic official resigned after being arrested in April. He has pleaded not guilty to charges that he received campaign contributions from a real estate businessman in exchange for his influence to obtain $50,000 for a non-profit organization run by that businessman.
Benjamin’s arrest sparked a political crisis for Gov. Cathy Hochul, a fellow Democrat who selected him as lieutenant governor when she took office following the resignation of her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, who resigned amid a sex scandal. was.
When he was arrested, Benjamin’s attorneys released a statement saying they were going to show in court that their client’s actions were praiseworthy rather than criminal.
On Monday, attorneys Barry Burke and Dani James said in a statement that the court’s decision “demonstrates how these misleading allegations seriously harmed Mr. Benjamin and unfairly cost him his position as lieutenant governor.”
The lawyers said, “While today is a great day for justice, democracy and the rule of law, it is sad that this matter has been brought up and that this judgment was necessary.”
“From the outset, we are dismayed and appalled that prosecutors have filed such blatant and baseless charges in response to nothing more than a fundraising effort and support of a charitable organization that does much-needed work for Harlem Public Schools.” provides money.” he added.
He added that Benjamin “is grateful to have proven himself and looks forward to other opportunities to serve the people of New York and his community in Harlem.”