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New York lieutenant governor resigns after indictment on bribery charges

New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin resigned on Tuesday afternoon, hours after he was indicted on federal bribery and conspiracy charges and surrendered to authorities.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) said in a statement that she has accepted Benjamin's resignation, "effective immediately. While the legal process plays out, it is clear to both of us that he cannot continue to serve as lieutenant governor. New Yorkers deserve absolute confidence in their government, and I will continue working every day to deliver for them."

Benjamin is accused of conspiring to funnel illegal donations to a Harlem real estate developer's charity. At the time, Benjamin was a state senator, running unsuccessfully for New York City comptroller. The indictment also alleges that Benjamin lied on vetting forms he filled out prior to being appointed as lieutenant governor.

In a statement, Benjamin's attorneys, James D. Gatta and William J. Harrington, said their client will "focus his energies on explaining in court why his actions were laudable — not criminal. He looks forward to when this case is finished so he can rededicate himself to public service."

There is no indication that Hochul knew about Benjamin's alleged activity last summer, when she chose him as her lieutenant governor. She became governor after Andrew Cuomo resigned amid accusations of sexual harassment, and is seeking a full term.