Six people charged with organizing illegal donations to Adams .’s 2021 Campaign

Four construction industry executives, a retired police inspector and an accountant armed with a sophisticated knowledge of campaign finance law were charged on Friday with conspiracy to donate illegal for Mayor Eric Adams’ 2021 campaign.

The 27-count indictment accuses the defendants of attempting to conceal the origin of thousands of dollars in donations by placing them in the names of colleagues and relatives, and says the group sought influence and may be city contracts. The indictment does not accuse Mr. Adams’ campaign or the mayor himself of any wrongdoing, and nothing indicates that he was aware of the plan.

The district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, said in a statement that the defendants concocted “a deliberate scheme to deceive the system in a blatant attempt to gain power.”

Prosecutors identified the defendants as Dwayne Montgomery, Shamsuddin Riza, Millicent Redick, Ronald Peek, Yahya Mushtaq and Shahid Mushtaq.

The indictment describes brothers Yahya and Shahid Mushtaq as principals of a construction company called EcoSafety Consultants, also charged in the indictment. Mr. Riza, the principal of another construction company, individual charged Friday, also worked with EcoSafe, the district attorney’s office said.

EcoSafety has been a city subcontractor since April 2021, according to records kept by the New York City Office of Control. During that time, the city paid it $470,000.

Mr. Montgomery, a retired police inspector, is married to Mr. Riza, for whom Ms. Redick worked as his accountant. Mr. Peek works at another construction safety company.

Scott Grauman, an attorney for Shahid Mushtaq and also a representative for EcoSafety, noted that his client pleaded not guilty Friday morning and added: “We will vigorously defend against the charges. “

Alexei Grosshtern, an attorney for Ms. Redick, the accountant, said she knew only one accomplice, Mr. Riza, adding that his client was unaware of any conspiracy and was surprised by it. her arrest.

Attorneys for Montgomery and Riza could not be immediately reached for comment.

New York City’s complex campaign finance laws are at the heart of the facts outlined in the court papers. To lessen the influence of large donors and give the advantage to less well-connected candidates, New York City number 8 resident’s first $250 contribution. The defendants are accused of attempting to conceal large donations by channeling them through straw donors. That allows the campaign to raise more money for the city and potentially amplifies the defendants’ influence with the incoming mayor.

It is not clear how much public money has been spent on the scheme.

On Friday, Evan Thies, a spokesman for the Adams 2021 campaign, thanked prosecutors for “working hard on behalf of the taxpayers.”

Mr Thies said: “The campaign has always held to the highest standards and we will never tolerate these actions. “Of course, the campaign will work with the DA office, the Campaign Finance Department and any relevant agencies.”

The defendants organized two fundraisers for Mr. Adams, one in August 2020 and the other a year later. The second comes after Mr. Adams won the primary, effectively securing his election as the city’s Democratic mayor.

For each fundraiser, according to prosecutors, the defendants recruited straw donors and then reimbursed them.

“I’ll give you the money,” Riza texted a relative, according to the indictment.

The defendants appear to be aware that they are engaging in dangerous conduct.

“You have to be careful because you have to make sure you do it through workers they trust, it won’t go unspoken, because remember a man went to jail for it,” Mr. Peek told Mr. Riza at one point, according to the indictment.

The defendants appear to be hopeful that their donation will help them win a contract on a development project. In July 2021, Mr. Riza forwarded an email to Mr. Montgomery to advertise the project.

“Please notify! This is the project I want, Safe, Drywall and Secure but we can all eat it!” Mr. Riza wrote.

It is not clear whether Mr Adams will appear in person at the fundraiser. But Mr Montgomery told Mr Riza that the mayor would be more likely if they could promise to raise a certain amount, an uncommon practice among politicians.

Mr. Adams “didn’t want to do anything if he didn’t get the 25 Gs,” Mr. Montgomery said, according to the indictment.

Mr. Adams’ campaign said Mr Montgomery appeared to be referring to the standard amount expected by fundraisers for the general election.

In a phone call in July 2021, Mr. Riza told Mr. Peek: “I know what campaign finance laws are. Make sure it’s $1,000 in your name and $1,000 in someone else’s name because the match amount is 8 to 1, so $2,000 is $16,000.”


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