A federal judge tossed must of a public-corruption case against former New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, finding the Justice Department’s charges didn’t meet the legal bar for prosecuting bribery involving campaign contributions. U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken in Manhattan threw out three corruption charges against Benjamin, a Democrat who was indicted this year on five criminal counts for allegedly soliciting campaign donations from a real-estate developer in exchange for steering $50,000 in state funds to the developer’s education nonprofit in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, reports the Wall Street Journal.
“The court concludes that the indictment fails to allege an explicit quid pro quo, which is an essential element of the bribery and honest services wire fraud charges brought against Benjamin,” Oetken ssaid. Some parts of the case remain. The judge declined to dismiss two charges that Benjamin falsified records, in what prosecutors said was an attempt to conceal the alleged scheme.T enjamin’s lawyers said the decision showed the indictment “was a direct assault on the democratic process” and unfairly cost Benjamin his position as lieutenant governor. “From the very beginning, we said we are shocked and dismayed that the prosecution would bring such flimsy and unwarranted charges based on nothing more than routine fundraising and support of a non-profit providing needed resources to Harlem public schools,” his lawyers said. Benjamin had been New York’s lieutenant governor for less than a year when he was indicted. He resigned after being charged in April. The charges pertained to campaign donations he solicited while serving as a state senator but running for New York City comptroller in 2021, a race he lost.