Manhattan owner charged in connection with campaign contribution plan

The New York Times reports that Gerald Migdol, 71, was arrested and brought to justice on Friday on federal charges of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, and is at risk up to 20 years in prison. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. A Manhattan real estate developer has been accused of attempting to fatten the wallet of a candidate for this year’s New York Comptroller race by making campaign contributions on behalf of people who had not authorized them. payments, including her 2-year-old grandson.

The candidate was not named in the indictment, but The Times suggests it is Lieutenant Governor Brian A. Benjamin, the former Harlem state senator who previously appointed Migdol for a community leadership award in this neighborhood, where Migdol owned properties and did charitable work.

According to the indictment, between 2019 and 2021, the contributions in question helped organize the candidate’s campaign to illegally receive tens of thousands of dollars in matching funds from the city’s campaign finance system, which provides dollars to candidates based on small grassroots donations. .

A spokesperson for Benjamin’s Comptroller campaign told The Times that Benjamin and the campaign were not charged with any wrongdoing and were ready to cooperate with authorities on the matter.

Benjamin, who came fourth in the comptroller’s campaign won by Councilor Brad Lander, was appointed lieutenant governor by Gov. Kathy Hochul in August after taking over from Andrew Cuomo.

One of the donations in question was a $ 250 contribution made on behalf of Migdol’s 2-year-old grandson, a fact first reported by The City website in January in a story that focused on three other donations. $ 250 made by men who said they had never heard of Benjamin.

In 2006, Migdol told the New York Post that it started buying brownstones in Harlem when their values ​​were much lower than they are today. The Migdol organization’s website also highlights the company’s charitable work through the Migdol Family Foundation, which it says provides food to the needy and resources to Harlem public schools.

Contact Vince DiMiceli

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