New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, 45, resigned from his post after prosecutors indicted him on bribery and fraud charges.
On Tuesday, Benjamin surrendered to authorities and was subsequently charged with five fraud-related counts connected to his 2021 NYC comptroller campaign, Yahoo! News reported.
According to the Department of Justice, Benjamin was charged with honest services wire fraud, bribery, conspiracy to commit those offenses and two counts of falsification of records. He allegedly made plans to accept monetary contributions for his campaign in exchange for agreeing to use his influence to secure a $50,000 grant for a nonprofit organization.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “By doing so, Benjamin abused his power and effectively used state funds to support his political campaigns. My Office and our partners at the FBI and DOI will continue to ensure that politicians who put themselves over the public interest will be prosecuted.”
FBI New York Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll said in a statement that Benjamin “exploited his authority.”
He added, “As we allege today, Benjamin’s conduct in this scheme directly circumvents those procedures put in place to keep our systems fair.”
Prior to Benjamin’s resignation announcement, New York Senate Finance Chair Liz Krueger asked him to step down and said the charges pending against him, “represent a serious breach of the public trust,” NBC 4 reported.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement, “New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in their government, and I will continue working every day to deliver for them.”
Hochul added, “[Brian] looks forward to when this case is finished so he can rededicate himself to public service,” NBC 4 reported.
If found guilty Benjamin could face 10 years in prison for bribery, 20 years for wire fraud, 5 years for conspiracy and 20 years for the two counts of falsifying records, the DOJ reported.