The former second-in-command in Albany is still facing charges, but not as many following court action December 5.

Bribery and fraud charges against former New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin have been thrown out by a federal judge leaving Benjamin to face only records falsification charges. 

The charges that were left intact allege that Benjamin knowingly made a false entry in a record with the intent to impede an investigation. Each of them carry a potential maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images (file)
Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images (file)
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Prosecutors almost immediately said they were planning an appeal. 

Benjamin’s trial on bribery allegations were to start in six weeks before Judge J. Paul Oetken issued a written opinion on Monday, December 5 saying prosecutors failed to produce an explicit example in which Benjamin provided a favor in exchange for a bribe. That caveat lies at the root of filing bribery and honest services fraud charges that are not only prosecutable but can uphold legal scrutiny.  

Benjamin resigned after his arrest last April. The Harlem Democrat pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of obtaining campaign contributions from a real estate developer in exchange for pushing $50,000 in New York State grant funds toward a nonprofit organization the developer controlled. 

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At the time of his arrest, Benjamin's lawyers had issued a statement saying they planned to show the courts that their client's actions were laudable rather than a crime. 

The Associated Press reports that on December 5, attorneys Barry Berke and Dani James said in a statement that the ruling “shows how these wrongful charges so harmed Mr. Benjamin and unfairly cost him his position as Lieutenant Governor.” 

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