Former NYPD colleague of NYC Mayor Adams pleads guilty to 'conspiracy' to violate campaign contribution limits with straw donors

 February 6, 2024

An ally and former NYPD colleague of Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams just pleaded guilty to making illegal contributions to the mayor's 2021 campaign in an agreement with prosecutors.

Dwayne Montgomery, a retired NYPD deputy inspector, agreed to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor conspiracy charge in a deal with prosecutors that avoided more serious charges and still needs to be approved by a judge, Politico reported.

Montgomery is alleged to have substantially exceeded New York City's campaign contributions limit by way of funneling excess cash into Adams' campaign by way of straw donors who falsely certified the contributions that were made in their name.

Plea agreement reached

In a five-page plea agreement with prosecutors, Montgomery pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, which carries a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail, though he is unlikely to serve any time behind bars at all, provided he adheres to the terms of the agreement.

In exchange for his admission under oath of his guilt on that misdemeanor charge, prosecutors will recommend that Montgomery be sentenced to serve 200 hours of community service and pay a $500 fine. He will also be barred for one year from hosting any political fundraisers as well as soliciting or delivering campaign contributions on behalf of others.

As noted, a judge must still approve the plea agreement, and the deal would be nullified -- with Montgomery facing up to 364 days in jail -- if he violates any of the conditions and terms of the arrangement reached with prosecutors.

The alleged scheme to violate campaign finance limitations

Montgomery was criminally indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in July 2023 along with five others who were alleged to be involved in a conspiracy to commit major campaign finance fraud and to exploit a New York City program that matches up to $250 in individual mayoral campaign contributions up to $2,000 in taxpayer funds.

The retired NYPD deputy inspector and the others were initially charged with multiple counts that included "Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, and Attempted Offering A False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree for their roles in this campaign finance scheme."

The six indicted individuals were accused of arranging for straw donors to make the maximum $250 contributions to Mayor Adams' campaign to trigger the matching funds program and then later reimbursing those same false donors in a scheme to get around the maximum individual contribution limit of $2,000.

"We allege a deliberate scheme to game the system in a blatant attempt to gain power. The indictment charges the defendants with subverting campaign finance laws by improperly structuring campaign contributions," Bragg said in a statement at that time.

The DA added, "The New York City Campaign Finance Board 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."

Mayor Adams insists no wrongdoing on his part

Politico reported that Mayor Adams has insisted there was no wrongdoing on his part in relation to the alleged scheme involving Montgomery and others, and told reporters on Monday, "I think the DA clearly reported that there was nothing our campaign did that was a part of what was done wrong. I say let the DA handle the situation."

He further described the great lengths his campaign had gone to in 2021 to ensure they complied with campaign finance rules, though the campaign's compliance attorney, Vito Pitta, separately acknowledged that some donors violated those rules despite the efforts to guard against such situations.

The outlet noted that at the time of the indictment last year, a representative of Adams' campaign downplayed the significance of the connection to Montgomery and said in a statement, "Montgomery was a colleague of the mayor in the police department whom he knew socially and worked on criminal justice issues with. Dozens of former police officers and criminal justice advocates hosted events for the mayor over the course of the campaign."

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