Gerald Migdol Is Charged in Marketing campaign Finance Scheme – The New York Instances

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Gerald Migdol is accused of concealing contributions to a New York Metropolis comptroller candidate to get extra public-matching funds.
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A Manhattan actual property developer was charged on Friday with scheming to hide contributions to a candidate on this yr’s New York Metropolis comptroller’s race in a bid to get as a lot public financing for the candidate as doable.
The developer, Gerald Migdol, organized for dozens of donations to be made to the marketing campaign within the names of people that had not approved the funds, based on an indictment unsealed on Friday by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
One contribution that prosecutors mentioned Mr. Migdol organized, a $250 cash order, was made within the identify of a relative who’s a minor, prosecutors mentioned.
The indictment doesn’t identify the candidate Mr. Migdol sought to assist. However the particulars of the case and publicly accessible info counsel it’s Brian A. Benjamin, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for comptroller and is now New York’s lieutenant governor.
The indictment doesn’t point out that the candidate knew of the scheme.
Mr. Migdol, 71, was arrested early Friday on expenses of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated id theft, officers mentioned. He pleaded not responsible in an arraignment on Friday in Federal District Courtroom in Manhattan and was launched on bond. The wire fraud expenses carry a most sentence of 20 years in jail.
“Free and truthful elections are the muse of our democracy, and marketing campaign finance laws are a method communities search to make sure everybody performs by the identical guidelines,” Damian Williams, the U.S. lawyer for the Southern District of New York, mentioned in an announcement.
Reached by cellphone after Mr. Migdol’s arraignment, Joel Cohen, his lawyer, mentioned his consumer had pleaded not responsible “and that’s acceptable.”
“That claims what we have to say,” Mr. Cohen added.
A person who answered the cellphone at Mr. Migdol’s family-run actual property firm, the Migdol Group, declined to remark. The corporate, which is predicated in Harlem, owns and operates residential properties throughout New York Metropolis.
In an announcement, a spokesman for Mr. Benjamin’s comptroller marketing campaign mentioned that “neither Lieutenant Governor Benjamin nor his marketing campaign are being accused of any wrongdoing and they’re ready to totally cooperate with authorities.”
The spokesman added that “as quickly because the marketing campaign found that these contributions have been improperly sourced, they donated them to the marketing campaign finance board.”
The workplace of Gov. Kathy Hochul referred all inquiries to Mr. Benjamin’s marketing campaign. Ms. Hochul selected Mr. Benjamin as her lieutenant governor in August after she succeeded Andrew M. Cuomo.
Mr. Migdol’s household has lengthy supported Democratic candidates, based on the Migdol Group web site, which incorporates photographs of members of the family with Mr. Benjamin and different politicians.
A number of Migdol members of the family, together with Gerald Migdol, contributed to Mr. Benjamin’s marketing campaign below their very own names, marketing campaign finance information present.
The contributions at challenge within the case in opposition to Mr. Migdol, the indictment says, have been meant to permit the candidate’s marketing campaign to qualify for public-matching funds by means of the town’s marketing campaign finance system, doubtlessly unlocking tens of 1000’s of {dollars} in extra cash. The scheme ran from November 2019 to January 2021, the indictment says.
Just a few of the contributions talked about within the indictment got to the marketing campaign by an individual at Mr. Migdol’s path, prosecutors mentioned. The indictment doesn’t identify the individual, who’s recognized solely as CC-1. The indictment additionally cites different unnamed “co-conspirators.”
Mr. Migdol, prosecutors mentioned, defined the scheme in a message to the unnamed folks in July 2020, describing how the town’s public-financing system may multiply their contributions eightfold.
“We get 8xl for cash orders of $100,” the message mentioned, based on the indictment. “For Cash orders of $250=8×1 for first $100 and the opposite $150 shouldn’t be matched. So a MO for $250 is price $950 for [Candidate-1]. Hopefully our subsequent Metropolis Comptroller.”
A biography of Mr. Migdol on his firm’s web site says he has been concerned in the true property enterprise in New York Metropolis for greater than 40 years, primarily in Harlem and the Bronx.
Mr. Migdol instructed The New York Publish in 2006 that he began shopping for brownstones in Harlem within the early 2000s after they have been promoting for a number of hundred thousand {dollars}, far lower than the costs such buildings can fetch in the present day.
In October 2019, Mr. Migdol obtained a group management award in Harlem that described him as “a real Harlem legend.” He mentioned in his acceptance speech that Mr. Benjamin had nominated him for the award.
“I’m grateful to my new buddy — our nice State Senator Brian Benjamin,” Mr. Migdol mentioned within the speech, which his firm posted on its web site. “At first look my nomination wouldn’t usually be a preferred selection. He then mentioned however for the truth that what you guys do right here is worthy of being honored.”
Mr. Benjamin, a former state senator from Harlem, positioned fourth within the Democratic major for comptroller, nicely behind the winner, Brad Lander, a Metropolis Council member from Brooklyn.
Most of the particulars within the indictment have been first reported in January by the information web site The Metropolis, together with that a number of folks whose names have been listed on donations to Mr. Benjamin’s marketing campaign mentioned they’d not made the funds.
One donation reported by The Metropolis was a $250 contribution made within the identify of Mr. Migdol’s 2-year-old grandson.
Jefferson Siegel contributed reporting.
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