New York's No. 2, Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, has surrendered to authorities on charges of a federal bribery conspiracy related to his prior unsuccessful city comptroller campaign, throwing his political future into question during an election year.

Benjamin, a Democrat, is accused of funneling state funding to a real estate investor in Harlem in return for thousands of dollars in illegal campaign donations to his 2021 comptroller campaign, prosecutors confirmed to the Washington Examiner. He is set to appear in a Manhattan federal court Tuesday.


"From at least in or about 2019, up to and including at least in or about 2021, Brian Benjamin, the defendant, participated in a scheme to obtain campaign contributions from a real estate developer in exchange for Benjamin's agreement to use and actual use of, his official authority and influence as a New York State senator to obtain a $50,000 grant of state funds," the indictment alleges.

Benjamin has been charged with bribery, honest services wire fraud, and two counts of falsification of records for the alleged scheme. The indictment follows an investigation into Benjamin by the FBI and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, which began issuing subpoenas against his associates in recent weeks.

Gerald Migdol, the real estate investor in the alleged scheme, was arrested last November and has been providing authorities information in their investigation, according to the New York Times. A grand jury indicted Migdol last year on aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, and other charges, alleging he made donations to Benjamin using other people's names and then reimbursing them to circumvent campaign finance laws. Some of the individuals' names he used included his 2-year-old grandchild, according to the outlet.

In September 2019, Benjamin presented Migdol with a $50,000 check for Migdol's charity, Friends of Public School Harlem, which donated supplies to various public schools. It is unclear if that was connected to the $50,000 prosecutors referenced. Benjamin previously stated that he was cooperating with investigators and privately sought to reassure his allies that he believed he would be cleared in the case, per the New York Times. He was a state senator at the time and filed to run for comptroller in October 2019.

Speculation of Benjamin's involvement in the scheme began to grow around the time of Migdol's indictment. Benjamin's staff vowed to review and return any improper donations discovered. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who selected him to be lieutenant governor after Andrew Cuomo's resignation catapulted her to the governor's mansion, previously defended Benjamin.

“I have utmost confidence in my lieutenant governor,” she said during a recent press conference, per the Associated Press. “This is an independent investigation related to other people and he’s fully cooperating. He is my running mate.”


There is no evidence in the public eye to show Hochul was aware of Benjamin's alleged actions, but his indictment creates complications for her reelection efforts, as she had previously sought to cast herself as a champion against corruption. Prior to Tuesday, there had been no indications from prosecutors that the lieutenant governor was directly involved in the alleged scheme. Benjamin was the state's second black lieutenant governor.

He is expected to remain on the Democratic primary ballot in June for the lieutenant governor position, according to the New York Times.