/  04.13.2022

New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin has stepped down from his position following his arrest on charges related to a bribery scheme, CNN reported. In a statement released on Tuesday (April 12), Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that she’d “accepted Brian Benjamin’s resignation effective immediately.”

“While the legal process plays out, it is clear to both of us that he cannot continue to serve as Lieutenant Governor,” she explained. “New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in their government, and I will continue working every day to deliver for them.”

Benjamin faces charges connected to allegations of bribery, fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records. The politician, who was appointed by Hochul, was accused of participating in a fraud case in which he allegedly donated a $50,000 state grant to a real estate developer’s nonprofit in exchange for campaign contributions between the years 2019 and 2021. Prosecutors claim the anonymous Harlem developer made donations in the names of people who either never gave money or were reimbursed for their payments. Other individuals who were also recruited by Benjamin “engaged in a series of lies and deceptions to cover up his scheme.”

Following his resignation on Tuesday, Benjamin appeared in a Manhattan courtroom, where he pleaded not guilty and was released on $250,000 bail. His attorneys, James D. Gatta and William Harrington, maintain that their client’s exchange with the developer was far from an inappropriate act.

“There has never been a federal case like this in America,” they said in a statement. “Brian supported a $50,000 grant to Friends of Public School Harlem. Every dollar was to buy supplies for public school students in Harlem. There was nothing inappropriate about this grant.”

The attorneys then announced Benjamin’s resignation and the suspension of his campaign, adding that he hopes to prove “his actions were laudable—not criminal” and eventually “rededicate himself to public service.”

 

 

 

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