By NAN STAFF WRITER
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. April 12, 2022: New York’s black Caribbean American Lieutenant Governor, Brian Benjamin, has been arrested by federal authorities for alleged corruption.
Benjamin of Harlem and the son of a Guyanese mother and Jamaican father, surrendered to federal authorities this morning, where he was arrested and now faces charges of conspiring to commit bribery while serving as a state senator.
He had represented the New York State Senate District 30, which encompasses Harlem, East Harlem and the Upper West Side in Manhattan. Benjamin, who is currently the state’s second-in-command to New York’s Gov. Kathy Hochul, is alleged to have funneled fraudulent donations to his unsuccessful 2021 campaign for city comptroller.
The arrest of Benjamin follows an investigation by both the FBI and the Southern District of New York, which have accused the lieutenant governor of directing state money into the coffers of Gerald Migdol, a private real estate investor, allegedly in exchange for thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions.
Federal investigators are expected to formally announce the charges against Benjamin this afternoon, when he is to appear in a Manhattan courtroom.
As recently as Thursday, Hochul expressed her confidence in Benjamin’s innocence during a press conference announcing the state budget agreement. Benjamin had said that day that he is cooperating with investigators and expects to be cleared.
Benjamin was also previously the chairman of the New York Senate Committee on Revenue and Budget, and Senior Assistant Majority Leader, where he distinguished himself as a leader in criminal justice reform and affordable housing.
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Benjamin and Hochul, 62, previously worked together on several key issues, including fighting the opioid epidemic and boosting addiction recovery programs, supporting Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) and making it easier for New Yorkers to vote.
Benjamin had unsuccessfully run for New York City Comptroller in June’s Democratic primary in a field that included Corey Johnson, the speaker of the City Council, and Councilman Brad Lander, who emerged triumphant. He placed fourth, behind Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a former CNBC television anchor.
The arrest is likely to complicate Hochul’s 2022 election campaign. It is unclear whether Benjamin will remain beside the governor on the ticket.