Bribery and fraud expenses towards former New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin had been tossed out Monday by a federal choose, leaving Benjamin to face solely data falsification expenses and prompting his attorneys to say it was tragic that the case was ever introduced.
Choose J. Paul Oetken in a written opinion mentioned prosecutors didn’t allege an express instance wherein Benjamin supplied a favor for a bribe, a vital aspect of bribery and trustworthy providers fraud expenses.
Benjamin, a Democrat, resigned after his arrest final April. He pleaded not responsible to expenses that he obtained marketing campaign contributions from an actual property developer in alternate for his affect to get a $50,000 grant of state funds for a nonprofit group the developer managed.
Benjamin’s arrest had created a political disaster for Gov. Kathy Hochul, a fellow Democrat who selected him to function second-in-command when she turned governor following a sexual harassment scandal that drove from workplace her predecessor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo.
On the time of his arrest, Benjamin’s attorneys had issued an announcement saying they deliberate to indicate the courts that their consumer’s actions had been laudable reasonably than against the law.
On Monday, attorneys Barry Berke and Dani James mentioned in an announcement that the ruling “reveals how these wrongful expenses so harmed Mr. Benjamin and unfairly price him his place as Lt. Governor.”
“Whereas right now is a good day for justice, democracy and the rule of legislation, it’s tragic that this case was ever introduced and such a call was mandatory,” they mentioned.
“From the very starting, we mentioned we’re shocked and dismayed that the prosecution would carry such flimsy and unwarranted expenses based mostly on nothing greater than routine fundraising and assist of a non-profit offering wanted assets to Harlem public faculties,” the attorneys mentioned.
They wrote that Benjamin was “grateful for his vindication and appears ahead to new alternatives to serve the folks of New York and his Harlem group.”
A spokesperson for prosecutors declined remark.
Benjamin was the state’s second Black lieutenant governor. Throughout a state Legislature profession that started in Could 2017, he emphasised felony justice reform and reasonably priced housing. His district included most of central Harlem, the place he was born and raised by Caribbean immigrant dad and mom.
In tossing out the primary three expenses in a five-count indictment, the choose wrote that appeals courts, together with the U.S. Supreme Courtroom, have made clear that proof of a promise was essential to assist felony expenses when funds are made within the type of marketing campaign contributions.
The choose mentioned he additionally agreed with a separate protection argument that the details alleged within the indictment, even when true, fail to ascertain felony legal responsibility. He famous that the federal government’s timeline of occasions present that there was no settlement between the Benjamin and the developer on the time Benjamin procured the $50,000 in state funding.
The fees that had been left intact allege that Benjamin knowingly made a false entry in a file with the intent to impede an investigation.