Bribery, fraud charges reinstated against former New York Lt. Governor

A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated bribery and fraud charges against former New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin.

Associated Press

Mar 8, 2024, 4:47 PM

Updated 39 days ago

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Bribery, fraud charges reinstated against former New York Lt. Governor
A federal appeals court on Friday reinstated bribery and fraud charges against former New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin.
The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan reversed a December 2022 ruling by a lower-court judge that wiped out the bulk of the case against the Democrat, leaving only records falsification charges.
The appeals court said in its written decision that a jury could infer from the alleged facts in the case that Benjamin promised to perform an official act in exchange for monetary payments.
The ruling pertained to Benjamin’s dealings with a real estate developer who contributed to his campaign.
The three-judge panel that ruled in the case said Benjamin had fair warning that his alleged agreement with the developer “was illegal and that it would not become legal if he simply avoided memorializing it expressly in words or in writing.”
Benjamin's lawyer, Barry Berke, did not immediately return a message seeking comment. A spokesperson for prosecutors declined comment.
Benjamin resigned as lieutenant governor after his April 2022 arrest. The arrest had created a political crisis for Gov. Kathy Hochul, a fellow Democrat who chose him to serve as second-in-command when she became governor following a sexual harassment scandal that drove from office her predecessor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo.
Benjamin was the state’s second Black lieutenant governor. During a state Legislature career that began in May 2017, he emphasized criminal justice reform and affordable housing. His district included most of central Harlem, where he was born and raised by Caribbean immigrant parents.
In tossing out the most serious charges in 2022, Judge J. Paul Oetken wrote that prosecutors failed to allege an explicit example in which Benjamin provided a favor for a bribe, an essential element of bribery and honest services fraud charges.


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