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Bribery, fraud charges against former New York lieutenant governor dismissed

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Monday rejected the federal government’s decision to target former New York lieutenant governor Brian Benjamin. ) major criminal charges in the corruption case.

U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken for Manhattan said the Justice Department failed to allege that there was a clear “quid pro quo” between Benjamin and Gerald Migdol, a real estate developer in Harlem, Manhattan, in favor of bribery, honesty Fraud and conspiracy charges in service Telegram indictment.

Prosecutors can bring two falsified records charges against Benjamin, Oetken said, involving the identities of campaign contributors and a background check to become lieutenant governor.

Benjamin, elected to the state’s No. 2 position by Gov. Kathy Hochul in August, resigned as Lieutenant Governor in April 000 ) when the charges were announced. He pleaded not guilty.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in Manhattan declined to comment.

Benjamin’s attorney, Barry Berke, said his client was “grateful for defending him” and looked forward to further serving New York and his Harlem community in what the attorney called “indefensible and Unfounded” allegations unfairly cost him his job.

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court, which grew increasingly skeptical of federal prosecutions of public corruption, appeared poised to impose further hurdles on such prosecutions when it heard arguments in the case involving Joseph Pokoko Restricted, Joseph Pokoko was a former aide to Hochul’s predecessor, Andrew Cuomo.

Prosecutors say Benjamin directed $21,000 in June The state appropriation 2019 was donated to Migdol, the Harlem charity where Benjamin was a state senator at the time, in exchange for his 00706 re-election and defeat 00706 Contribution to bid to become New York City Comptroller. But Oetken said the government had only “suggested” an agreement between the two men, and awarding the grant did not “prove” that there had been such an agreement.

Migdol pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges and is cooperating with prosecutors.

The case is United States v. Benjamin, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 21 -cr-00706.

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