Bragg indicts 6 in campaign scheme benefitting NYC Mayor Eric Adams

 July 16, 2023

Though liberal Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has often been accused of putting principles of fairness and justice aside for the benefit of those with whom he is politically aligned, news emerged this week that his office had indicted six individuals accused of illegally directing large sums of matching funds to Democrat Mayor Eric Adams' 2021 campaign, as the Associated Press reports.

Adams himself, however, was not implicated in the indictment, nor were any members of his administration.

Campaign donation scheme alleged

Bragg's team revealed that the defendants orchestrated a straw donor scheme in which contributions from city residents were illegally structured so as to sidestep dollar amount limits, take advantage of a matching funds program, and curry favor with Adams.

Allegedly spearheaded a man named Dwayne Montgomery, who formerly served as an NYPD inspector and, as of the date of his indictment, was listed as an official with Teamsters Local 237, the strategy involved the recruitment of friends and relatives to utilize the eight-to-one campaign donation matching funds system applicable to the initial $250 donated by individuals.

Montgomery was also said to have organized fundraising events designed to support Adams, though it was unclear precisely how much money was ultimately raised on the now-mayor's behalf via that route.

Also named in the indictment documents are three individuals said to have assisted in facilitating the unlawful donations and two other individuals from a firm known as EcoSafety Consultants, a construction company that often contracts with the city.

“You could use a straw man”

The officials from EcoSafety Consultants, Yahya Mushtaq and Shahid Mushtaq, are accused of taking steps to avoid the $400 campaign contribution limit applied to those currently in business with the city.

They did so by allegedly coordinating contributions that were made under their employees' names as individuals, typically without their knowledge.

During a phone call between Yayha Mushtaq and co-defendant Shamsuddin Riza, the latter is heard saying, “You could use a straw man. Whoever's on the LLC or the incorporation, those are the people that do business with the city. Anybody else is an employee, the employees don't fall under that criteria.”

Riza himself, also the owner of a construction company, appeared to view the donation scheme as a sound pathway to securing favorable treatment from the city when it comes to contracting, even specifying in an email to Montgomery a particular bid he had hoped to win.

“All New Yorkers suffer”

In a statement announcing the indictments, Bragg declared, as the New York Post noted, “We allege a deliberate scheme to game the system in a blatant attempt to gain power," slamming the alleged conduct despite the fact that it inured to the benefit of a powerful Democrat and adding:

The New York City Campaign Finance Board [matching funds] program is meant to support our democracy and amplify the voices of New York City voters. When the integrity of that program is corrupted, all New Yorkers suffer.

Each of the six defendants now faces charges of attempted grand larceny, conspiracy, and making false statements.

Evan Thies, a spokesperson for Adams' 2021 campaign maintained that the mayor never engaged in conversation about city business with any of those charged, though he may have chatted with Montgomery about other matters in social or other casual encounters, according to the Post.

“The campaign always held itself to the highest standards, and we would never tolerate these actions,” Thies said. “The campaign will, of course, work with the DA's Office, the Campaign Finance Board, and any relevant authorities,” and whether those unqualified disclaimers hold up as the case unfolds and defense strategies emerge, only time will tell.

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