By Luc Cohen
NEW YORK (Reuters) -New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, the state’s No. 2 official just after Governor Kathy Hochul, resigned on Tuesday immediately after getting billed with bribery and fraud for allegedly directing point out cash toward a serious estate developer in trade for marketing campaign contributions.
Hochul, who handpicked Benjamin for the lieutenant governor’s career very last August, introduced the resignation a number of hours just after the 45-year-outdated Benjamin pleaded not responsible in Manhattan federal courtroom to rates in a five-rely indictment.
“Whilst the legal approach plays out, it is obvious to both of us that he are not able to carry on to serve as lieutenant governor,” Hochul mentioned in a statement. “New Yorkers have earned complete self confidence in their federal government, and I will continue functioning just about every working day to produce for them.”
Benjamin’s resignation is powerful quickly, Hochul reported. Attorneys for Benjamin did not straight away answer to requests for remark.
Prosecutors explained Benjamin in 2019 directed a $50,000 state grant to a non-gain managed by the developer from the Harlem part of Manhattan, which Benjamin represented at the time as a point out senator.
The developer then sent Benjamin’s reelection marketing campaign hundreds of bucks by various checks in the names of kinfolk and a limited liability business, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors explained the developer also raised cash for Benjamin’s unsuccessful 2021 operate to turn into New York City’s comptroller.
“Taxpayer revenue for campaign contributions. Quid professional quo. This for that. That’s corruption,” mentioned Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. “Public corruption continues to be a issue in New York. It is a bipartisan dilemma. It is an ongoing trouble.”
The Harlem real estate developer was not recognized by identify in the indictment.
Just in excess of two months right after Benjamin became lieutenant governor, real estate developer Gerald Migdol was criminally billed with steering illegal campaign contributions to an unnamed candidate for town comptroller. Migdol pleaded not responsible.
Benjamin faces rates like bribery, wire fraud and falsification of documents. His scenario and Migdol’s are in the similar case file.
U.S. Magistrate Choose Ona Wang unveiled Benjamin on $250,000 bond, and imposed journey limitations that left him unable to vacation to Albany, New York’s state money, without permission from authorities.
Benjamin is next thanks to look in court docket on April 19.
The expenses could complicate Hochul’s reelection bid in November.
Hochul, a Democrat who had been lieutenant governor, changed Andrew Cuomo as governor previous August, when he resigned next an inquiry that uncovered that he experienced sexually harassed 11 women.
She faces issues from New York City Comptroller Jumaane Williams and Extended Island U.S. Congressman Tom Suozzi for Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York Modifying by Will Dunham and Monthly bill Berkrot)