Mr. Benjamin, who has pleaded not guilty, has reshuffled his legal team since his arrest, bringing in Mr. Berke and Dani R. James of Kramer Levin as his new lawyers. Mr. Berke represented Bill de Blasio in several inquiries into the former mayor’s fund-raising practices and later served as a lead counsel for both impeachments of former President Donald J. Trump.
Prosecutors have said that Mr. Benjamin used his power, while he was a member of the State Senate, to direct $50,000 in state funds to a charity run by a Harlem real estate developer, Gerald Migdol. In return, Mr. Migdol orchestrated thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to Mr. Benjamin’s failed campaign in 2021 for New York City comptroller and his State Senate campaign, the authorities said.
What to Know About Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin
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Mr. Migdol, who pleaded not guilty last fall to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, has been assisting prosecutors in the investigation, The New York Times has reported.
“Exploiting one’s official authority by allocating state funds as part of a bribe to procure donations to a political campaign, and engaging in activity to cover up the bribe, is illegal,” Michael J. Driscoll, the head of the F.B.I.’s New York office, said in a statement when the charges were announced on April 12.
In the meantime, the ramifications of the case continue to ripple through New York politics.
Though Mr. Benjamin resigned and suspended his re-election campaign within hours of his arrest, state election rules make it exceedingly difficult to remove his name from or replace him on the June Democratic primary ballot.
Two other Democrats will appear alongside him: Diana Reyna, a former New York City councilwoman, and Ana Maria Archila, an activist backed by the left-leaning Working Families Party.
That means that if Ms. Hochul prevails in her own primary contest, she could end up on a Democratic general election ticket this fall with a running mate she did not choose.
Mr. Benjamin, who is free on bond, did not speak in court or as he left with his lawyers. The judge, J. Paul Oetken, said that he might set a trial date at a court hearing next month.