New York's Democrat Lt Governor Resigns after Arrest on Federal Bribery Charges
Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin turns himself in to federal authorities following indictment
New York's Democrat Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin has resigned after he was arrested Tuesday on multiple federal charges including bribery and fraud.
Benjamin was indicted on Tuesday on campaign finance-related federal charges.
Following his indictment on charges of bribery, fraud, and falsification of records, Benjamin turned himself over to federal authorities on Tuesday morning.
New York's Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul accepted Benjamin's resignation, despite saying she had “utmost confidence” in him just last Thursday.
“I have accepted Brian Benjamin’s resignation effective immediately,” Hochul said in a statement.
“While the legal process plays out, it is clear to both of us that he cannot continue to serve as Lieutenant Governor."
"New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in their government, and I will continue working every day to deliver for them,” the governor added.
Fox 5 reported that after facing “charges including bribery, fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records, Benjamin pleaded not guilty Tuesday at an initial appearance in Manhattan federal court.
"He was released and bail was set at $250,000.”
Benjamin is accused of funneling a taxpayer-funded $50,000 state grant to a Harlem real estate developer who had allegedly donated to the politician's campaign coffers.
That developer gave two $10,000 personal checks to Benjamin made in the name of his relatives in order to escape detection from officials, according to prosecutors.
"As alleged, Brian Benjamin used his power as a New York state senator to secure a state-funded grant in exchange for contributions to his own political campaigns," read a statement from Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
"By doing so, Benjamin abused his power and effectively used state funds to support his political campaigns."
Benjamin appeared before a federal judge in New York City and pleaded not guilty to all five counts.
He was appointed lieutenant governor by Hochul in 2021 after she became governor when the disgraced Andrew Cuomo resigned in Aug. 2021, over numerous accusations of sexual harassment.
When Hochul was asked to comment on the investigation into Benjamin a week ago, she expressed confidence in her lieutenant governor.
"I have utmost confidence in my lieutenant governor," said Hochul at the time.
"This is an independent investigation related to other people, and he is fully cooperating."