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Corruption charges dismissed against the ex-lieutenant. Governor Brian Benjamin


A Manhattan federal judge on Monday dismissed bribery and bribery charges against former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin of New York, saying prosecutors failed to show explicit quid pro quo in what he said. they had claimed to be a scheme to funnel $50,000 in state money to a developer in exchange for campaign contributions.

“The court finds that the indictment fails to state an explicit quid pro quo, which is an essential element of the charges of bribery and honest services wire fraud brought against Benjamin,” Judge J. Paul said. Oetken of the Federal District Court.

He said he would dismiss the three corruption charges that prompted Mr Benjamin, a Democrat, to resign from office when they were announced in April. But Mr. Benjamin still faces trial on two other counts – charges of falsifying records, including a verification questionnaire related to his appointment as lieutenant governor – which the judge cleared. to present oneself.

The ruling comes as the U.S. Supreme Court continues to narrow laws governing bribery, making it harder for federal prosecutors to successfully bring such cases. Just last week, the court appeared poised to impose new limits after hearing arguments in two New York cases involving officials who had served under former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, including Joseph Percoco , who had been one of his chief advisers.

Mr Benjamin’s lawyers called the decision “justification” for charges they said were never justified. In a statement, they hinted that he would seek “new opportunities” to serve New York and Harlem, his political home, but made no mention of the pending record tampering charges.

“The rejection of this now discredited corruption theory also makes it clear how the indictment was a direct attack on the democratic process,” wrote the attorneys, Barry H. Berke and Dani James. “As today is a great day for justice, democracy and the rule of law, it is tragic that this case was ever brought and that such a decision was necessary.”

Nicholas Biase, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, which is prosecuting the case, declined to comment.

The indictment caused significant political fallout in Albany and New York earlier this year. Governor Kathy Hochul encouraged Mr Benjamin to resign hours after he surrendered to authorities and prosecutors uncovered the charges, which stemmed from his tenure as a state senator.

Although the governor was not implicated in the case, the cloud of scandal he created lingered over his re-election campaign for months. Finding a replacement for Mr. Benjamin as lieutenant governor also sparked a chain of events that some Democrats say cost them a crucial Hudson Valley congressional seat.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Hochul declined to comment.

Mr. Benjamin had been a rising star in New York politics, with an enviable resume and growing cachet in Albany before his fall. Although Monday’s notice is a victory for him, the remaining charges are still likely to continue, leaving any quick path to elective office uncertain.

Luis Ferré-Sadurni contributed report.

nytimes Gt

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