Judge drops corruption charges against former New York Lt. Gov. Benjamin
Driving the news: U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken of the Southern District of New York wrote in a decision that "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."
- Federal prosecutors later Monday appealed Oetken's decision to drop some of the charges charges against Benjamin.
Details: Oetken said the court would throw out three counts of corruption against Benjamin, a Democrat, but a motion to throw out two other counts that the former lieutenant governor allegedly falsified records was denied.
- "The Second Circuit has held — again, explicitly — that 'proof of an express promise is necessary when the payments are made in the form of campaign contributions,'" Oetken wrote.
What they're saying: "Today’s decision shows how these wrongful charges so harmed Mr. Benjamin and unfairly cost him his position as Lt. Governor," defense lawyers Barry H. Berke and Dani James said in a statement.
- "The dismissal of this now discredited bribery theory also makes clear how the indictment was a direct assault on the democratic process."
- "Mr. Benjamin is thankful for his vindication and looks forward to new opportunities to serve the people of New York and his Harlem community."
- A representative for the attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment.
The big picture: Benjamin resigned in April after he was arrested for campaign finance-related federal bribery conspiracy charges.
- The federal indictment accused Benjamin of soliciting campaign contributions from a New York real estate developer in exchange for $50,000 in state funds for the developer's nonprofit in Harlem.
- Benjamin was appointed lieutenant governor by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) in 2021, and before that he was a New York state senator.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional developments.