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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, December 9, 2023 | Back issues
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Six charged in straw donor scheme supporting NYC Mayor Adams campaign

Adams himself is not implicated in the indictment, which names a retired NYPD inspector and five private contractors.

MANHATTAN (CN) — A former police colleague of sitting New York City Mayor Eric Adams was indicted Friday along with five other individuals and a business on charges that they caused the Democratic Adams to collect tens of thousands of dollars in matching public funds based on illegal contributions to his 2021 campaign.

The indictment unsealed this morning in Manhattan Supreme Court does not implicate Adams, his campaign or other current city employees in any wrongdoing. Prosecutors contend that the scheme consisted of construction contractors illegally structuring campaign contributions so that Adams' campaign would maximize its advantage from the New York City Matching Funds Program.

During the 2021 mayoral race, New York City matched the first $250 any city resident contributed to participating candidates by a ratio of 8-to-1. In other words, a candidate who received a qualifying $250 individual contribution would get an additional $2,000 in public funds from the New York City Campaign Finance Board. Individuals are limited to $2,000 in maximum contributions. For those who own a business that vies for city contracts, the maximum was $400.

“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,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement Friday. “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.”

Dwayne Montgomery, 64, is the most prominent of the six men indicted Thursday. Evan Thies, a spokesperson for the mayor’s campaign, acknowledged that Adams knew Montgomery “socially” through their work with the New York City Police Department. Before he entered politics, Adams, 62, had a more than 20-year-career in the NYPD, retiring with the rank of captain. Montgomery is now director of integrity for the municipal workers union, Teamsters Local 237, but previously was an NYPD inspector.

Prosecutors say Montgomery orchestrated more than two dozen straw donations between 2020 and 2021, while also helping to organize fundraisers for Adams.

Thies insisted that Adams' campaign had no knowledge of the scheme.

Shamsuddin Riza, 70; Millicent Redick, 77; Ronald Peek, 65; Yahya Mushtaq, 28, and Shahid Mushtaq, 29, all face charges along with Montgomery for conspiracy, attempted grand larceny, offering a false instrument for filing. The final defendant is EcoSafety Consultants, a construction safety business owned by the Mustaqs that is has an active city contract tied to a Staten Island trash depot.

A City Hall spokesperson declined to comment substantially on the indictment, noting only that Montgomery is the only one of the six individual defendants whom Adams had ever met.

Thies, the campaign spokesperson, pledged to work with the campaign finance board and the district attorney on the case.

“The campaign always held itself to the highest standards and we would never tolerate these actions,” he said.

Local 237 distanced itself from the charges as well, suspending Montgomery from his union position. "Local 237 which endorsed an Adams opponent — in the 2021 primary and general mayoral elections — is no way connected to any of the allegations," said spokesman Hank Sheinkopf.

In the indictment, Montgomery quotes the future mayor saying "he doesn't want to do anything if he doesn't get 25 Gs.”

Montgomery said this allegedly while speaking over the phone to co-defendant Riza in July 2021.

Later that month, Riza directed Peek: "I know what the campaign finance laws is, I understand that. I'm trying to raise this money. Make sure it's $1,000 in your name and $1,000 in another person's name because the matching funds is 8-to-1, so $2,000 is $16,000,”

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Categories / Criminal, Politics, Regional

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