Albert Baldeo, a former Democratic district leader and candidate for city and state office, was found guilty of obstructing justice today, though he was acquitted of mail and wire fraud charges.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara indicted Mr. Baldeo two years ago for orchestrating a straw donor scheme to funnel illegal contributions to his 2010 campaign for City Council. Mr. Baldeo, Mr. Bharara alleged at the time, also asked his straw donors to lie to federal investigators once he learned the feds were probing the alleged scheme.
Mr. Baldeo, a Richmond Hill attorney who also nearly unseated a Republican state senator in 2006, faced 10 charges and was acquitted on all three related to mail and wire fraud, according to court documents. He was found guilty on the seven other charges related to conspiracy and obstructing justice, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bharara confirmed.
The fact that Albert Baldeo lost his election does not excuse his corrupt conduct. With today’s verdict of guilty, an impartial federal jury has found that Mr. Baldeo lied and instructed others to lie to law enforcement agents investigating the source of his campaign contributions, and threatened and intimidated others in order to conceal the truth,” Mr. Bharara said in a statement. “These practices have no place in our politics or our justice system, and there should be no doubt that this Office will prosecute such conduct while it continues to vigorously investigate and prosecute political corruption in New York City and New York State.”
Each of the seven charges carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Mr. Baldeo did not immediately return a request for comment, though a group known as “People for Baldeo” defended Mr. Baldeo for being acquitted on the mail and wire fraud charges.
“It is clear that our precious tax dollars are being spent in targeting Mr. Baldeo selectively and vindictively and this lynching must be stopped. We challenge all right thinking people to condemn these grave civil, human rights, constitutional and voting rights violations,” the group said. “We demand an immediate end to this political witch hunt of Albert Baldeo, and call upon these agencies which are funded by our tax dollars to stop this harassment and vendetta against him now!”
Updated with statements from Mr. Bharara and People for Baldeo.