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

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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 12 months’s New York Metropolis comptroller’s race in a bid to get as a lot public financing for the candidate as potential.
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, in line with 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 title of a relative who’s a minor, prosecutors mentioned.
The indictment doesn’t title the candidate Mr. Migdol sought to assist. However the particulars of the case and publicly accessible info recommend 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 prices 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 prices carry a most sentence of 20 years in jail.
“Free and truthful elections are the muse of our democracy, and marketing campaign finance rules are a technique 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 telephone 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 telephone 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 completely cooperate with authorities.”
The spokesman added that “as quickly because the marketing campaign found that these contributions had 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, in line with the Migdol Group web site, which incorporates pictures of relations with Mr. Benjamin and different politicians.
A number of Migdol relations, together with Gerald Migdol, contributed to Mr. Benjamin’s marketing campaign underneath their very own names, marketing campaign finance data present.
The contributions at situation within the case towards Mr. Migdol, the indictment says, had 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.
A couple of of the contributions talked about within the indictment got to the marketing campaign by an individual at Mr. Migdol’s course, prosecutors mentioned. The indictment doesn’t title the particular person, 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, in line with the indictment. “For Cash orders of $250=8×1 for first $100 and the opposite $150 is just not matched. So a MO for $250 is value $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 advised The New York Submit in 2006 that he began shopping for brownstones in Harlem within the early 2000s after they had been promoting for a number of hundred thousand {dollars}, far lower than the costs such buildings can fetch as we speak.
In October 2019, Mr. Migdol acquired a neighborhood 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 well-liked 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, properly behind the winner, Brad Lander, a Metropolis Council member from Brooklyn.
Lots of the particulars within the indictment had been first reported in January by the information web site The Metropolis, together with that a number of folks whose names had been listed on donations to Mr. Benjamin’s marketing campaign mentioned that they had not made the funds.
One donation reported by The Metropolis was a $250 contribution made within the title of Mr. Migdol’s 2-year-old grandson.
Jefferson Siegel contributed reporting.
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