According to National Media, bribery and fraud charges against former New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin were tossed out Monday by a federal judge, leaving Benjamin to face only records falsification charges and prompting his lawyers to say it was tragic that the case was ever brought.
Judge J. Paul Oetken issued an opinion saying prosecutors failed to allege an explicit example in which Benjamin provided a favor for a bribe, an essential element of bribery and honest services fraud charges.
Benjamin, a Democrat, resigned after his arrest last April. He pleaded not guilty to charges that he had obtained campaign contributions from a real estate developer in exchange for his influence to get a $50,000 grant of state funds for a nonprofit organization the developer controlled.
Benjamin’s arrest created a political crisis for Gov. Kathy Hochul, a fellow Democrat who chose him to serve as second-in-command when she became governor following a sexual harassment scandal that had driven her predecessor, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, from office.
At the time of his arrest, Benjamin’s lawyers issued a statement saying they planned to show the courts that their client’s actions were laudable rather than a crime.