NY lieutenant governor the focus of federal campaign fraud probe: Report

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Federal investigators have issued subpoenas to former campaign advisers of New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin and the state Senate, trying to determine whether he had a hand in funneling fraudulent donations to his failed comptroller bid, according to reports.

The subpoenas come four months after the federal indictment of Manhattan real estate developer Gerald Migdol, Benjamin’s longtime associate, who is accused of funneling fraudulent contributions to Benjamin’s 2021 campaign for New York City comptroller in an attempt to qualify for the city’s matching funds program, which doles out $8 from public money for every $1 raised privately, the New York Daily News reported.

State Senator Brian Benjamin pumps his fist as he celebrates during a press conference announcing him as Lt. Governor on August 26, 2021, in New York City. 
(Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Migdol pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on the wire fraud charge alone, The New York Times reported.

Prosecutors from the Southern District of New York have issued several grand jury subpoenas to members of Benjamin’s campaign committee, seeking fundraising records and communications related to Migdol, The Times reported.

New York, N.Y.: New York Governor Kathy Hochul and State Senator Brian Benjamin are seen at a press conference in Harlem in New York City on August 26, 2021.
(Photo by Chris Ware/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

Prosecutors are also seeking records from the state Senate, where Benjamin served from 2017 until summer 2021, when he was tapped to be second-in-command to Gov. Kathy Hochul, The Times reported.

The lieutenant governor was not named in the indictment and has not weighed in on the new developments, instead directing The Times and the Daily News to an earlier statement that was released upon Migdol’s arrest in November.

“Neither Lt. Gov. Benjamin nor his campaign are being accused of any wrongdoing, and they are prepared to fully cooperate with authorities,” Benjamin’s spokesman said.

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