Authorities arrested New York Democratic Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin on Tuesday morning on campaign finance-related federal charges, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News 4.
According to ABC News 7, Benjamin surrendered himself to authorities Tuesday morning. The charges are reportedly in connection with a past campaign.
“The lieutenant governor, who had been considered a rising political star after he was chosen by Gov. Hochul, faces bribery and other charges,” ABC News 7 added.
He is expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan sometime on Tuesday.
NBC News 4 provided more details regarding his alleged crimes:
His arrest comes after reports that Manhattan federal prosecutors and the FBI were investigating whether Benjamin knowingly engaged in a campaign finance fraud scheme. Subpoenas were issued in connection with the investigation, two sources familiar with the subpoenas said at the time.
The investigators also looked into whether Benjamin helped dole out state money to contributors and/or their projects as part of the alleged fraud.
During the vetting process for the lieutenant governor appointment in 2021, Benjamin had failed to notify Hochul of a subpoena that he had received from a district attorney in relation to his aide, Gerry Migdol, WSKG reported:
Benjamin was a state senator when the Manhattan district attorney subpoenaed him last year about an alleged scheme run by a former campaign aide.
The aide, Gerry Migdol, allegedly solicited phony campaign donations so that Benjamin — who was then running for New York City comptroller — could boost his fundraising numbers to receive public matching funds.
Migdol was arrested and charged with soliciting fake donations.
Benjamin had recently been out of the public eye until last Thursday when he appeared alongside Hochul for the first time since March 22. Benjamin maintained he had done nothing wrong regarding the subpoena, WSKG also noted on Monday:
Benjamin told reporters that he failed to tell Hochul of the subpoena when she was vetting him to be her lieutenant governor last August. He said he participated in a background check by the State Police, and thought that was enough.
“The State Police did a thorough investigation, I participated in that,” Benjamin said. “I followed the process as it was supposed to be followed.”
Benjamin has denied any wrongdoing.
WSKG also reported that, according to The New York Times, “federal prosecutors are looking at whether Benjamin steered state grants for his district to financially benefit Migdol.”
Last week, Hochul told reporters that she supports her second-in-command despite the subpoena. Prior to his arrest, New York’s governor insisted he would stay on the ballot for this year’s gubernatorial election
“I have utmost confidence in my lieutenant governor,” Hochul told the media. “He is my running mate.”