/Lt. Gov. Benjamin Arrested in Campaign Finance Scheme – The New York Times

Lt. Gov. Benjamin Arrested in Campaign Finance Scheme – The New York Times


Mr. Benjamin said recently that he had been cooperating with investigators, who had issued subpoenas in recent weeks to the State Senate in Albany and people who had advised his comptroller campaign. The lieutenant governor, accompanied by his lawyers, met with prosecutors last week, according to a person familiar with the matter, and his top aides were reassuring allies in private that he expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing in the case.

But the Harlem real estate investor who illegally assisted his campaign, Gerald Migdol, while not listed by name in the indictment, is identified as “CC-1,” short for co-conspirator 1. He began providing information to investigators after he was arrested in November on an indictment charging him with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and other crimes related to his role in the fund-raising scheme, according to the people with knowledge of the matter.

In that indictment, prosecutors said that Mr. Migdol began to steer thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent contributions to Mr. Benjamin in October 2019, just a month after the state senator filed to run for comptroller. They accused him of making straw donations in the name of individuals, including his 2-year-old grandchild, who did not consent to them, and of reimbursing others for the cost of their contributions.

At the time, the prosecutors did not comment on Mr. Migdol’s motive, or explicitly name Mr. Benjamin. But they said his scheme was designed to help the candidate tap into New York City’s generous public campaign matching funds program and secure him tens of thousands of dollars in additional campaign cash.

The two men were close and traded accolades at a series of charitable and political functions over the years in Harlem, where Mr. Migdol made a name for himself distributing school supplies and Thanksgiving turkeys through his charity.

State records and a Facebook photo posted by Mr. Migdol at the time show Mr. Benjamin presenting him with an oversized cardboard check for $50,000 for the charity, Friends of Public School Harlem, in September 2019. It is unclear if the funds, which were earmarked as part of a discretionary state education fund, were ever actually delivered, but they represented one of the largest outside gifts ever directed to the small charity.

A graduate of Ivy League schools, Mr. Benjamin, spent much of his career in banking and affordable housing development before winning a State Senate seat representing most of Harlem in 2017.

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