Court Rules Disgraced Former NY Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin Can Face Bribery and Fraud Charges

Credits: NBC New York

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that Former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin can face bribery and fraud charges, overturning a lower court’s decision.

The court found that prosecutors had provided enough evidence to suggest an “explicit quid pro quo” between Benjamin and real estate developer Gerald Migdol.

Benjamin, who resigned as Gov. Kathy Hochul’s lieutenant governor after his arrest in April 2022, was accused of directing $50,000 in state funds to a nonprofit controlled by Migdol in exchange for contributions to his political campaigns.

Former NY Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin (Credits: Amsterdam News)

While a lower court had previously ruled that prosecutors failed to show an explicit quid pro quo, the appeals court disagreed, stating that a jury could infer an agreement based on the alleged facts presented in the indictment.

Despite Migdol’s death in February, which leaves the government without a key witness, it remains unclear if Benjamin will face prosecution. A Manhattan US Attorney’s Office spokesman declined to comment on the matter.

The case could potentially reach the US Supreme Court, which has shown a willingness to weaken federal fraud and bribery statutes in recent rulings.

Last year, the high court dismissed corruption charges against former Cuomo aide Joe Percoco and Buffalo contractor Louis Ciminelli in two separate public funds scandals.

Benjamin once considered a rising star in Albany, was appointed as Hochul’s lieutenant governor in August 2021. However, eight months later, he was arrested and later stepped down from his position, despite pleading innocent to the charges.

In response to the ruling, Benjamin’s lawyer, Barry Berke, maintained his client’s innocence, stating that Benjamin had only engaged in routine fundraising and had supported a nonprofit benefiting Harlem public schools.

Berke expressed confidence that Benjamin would be vindicated in the case, which he believed should never have been brought forward.

I see content writing as a way to express myself. Aside from following celebrities and staying abreast of all the buzz in the entertainment world, I'm an entertaionment savvy guy. I spend time researching topics that you will likely enjoy reading about next.