(PresidentialHill.com)- Last week, attorneys for former New York Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin tried to get his bribery case tossed out.
Benjamin resigned from office in April after being indicted on bribery conspiracy charges in connection to an alleged campaign finance scheme dating back to his time as a state senator.
He’s accused of accepting campaign donations from Harlem real estate developer Gerald Midgol in exchange for steering state funds to Migdol’s non-profit.
In a Manhattan federal court hearing on Wednesday, Benjamin’s attorney, Barry Berke, accused prosecutors of improperly charging his client in what he claims was the “most aggressive political corruption case ever made by the US government.”
Berke told the Judge in the case that because the charges related to contributions, prosecutors have to prove the alleged agreement between Benjamin and Migdol was “expressly” stated and included an explicit quid pro quo.
Berke told Judge Paul Oetken that “simply asking for money” either before or after Migdol received a benefit “cannot be enough.” He said such a standard would have a “chilling effect” on lawmakers nationwide who seek to aid a particular industry through legislation.
Judge Oetken noted that the indictment alleges that Benjamin accepted the contributions “in exchange for” state funds. But Berke argued that prosecutors only added that to “satisfy elements of the statute” without showing that the law was broken.
The prosecutor in the case, Assistant US Attorney Jarrod Schaeffer, argued that the charges against Benjamin are “firmly grounded in the law” and are a “straightforward and reasonable application” of the bribery statute.
Schaffer said the charges differentiate between the above-board donations Migdol gave to Benjamin and those that were given as part of the quid pro quo. He added that Benjamin and his people attempted to “obscure the origin of those campaign contributions,” conceding that this could have been done because the contributions were illegally bundled.
The Judge said he would make his decision on whether or not to throw out the case at a later date.
Benjamin has pleaded not guilty.