This morning, Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District, announced multiple charges relating to an alleged campaign finance scheme against Albert Baldeo, a Democratic district leader in Queens. Mr. Baldeo, who surrendered to law enforcement this morning, is being accused of using a system of “straw donors” to fill his campaign coffers for his unsuccessful 2010 City Council campaign with “funds drawn from his own bank account disguised as donations from others.” He is also being charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly telling instructing the straw donors to give false information and say the donations were made with their money when FBI agents began investigating his campaign finances. In a statement accompanying the announcement, Mr. Bharara characterized the charges against Mr. Baldeo as proof his office will be continue to be aggressive in pursuing corruption investigations, something which he has earned a reputation for since being sworn in as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District in 2009.
“As alleged, Queens District Leader Albert Baldeo was so focused on securing a position with the New York City Council that he was willing to break the law to increase his chances–including engaging in a scheme to circumvent campaign finance laws by funneling his own money through straw donors. Baldeo even allegedly used fear and intimidation to prevent others from exposing his conduct,” Mr. Bharara said. “As today’s charges demonstrate, we will not sit idly by and allow candidates for elected office to corrupt the electoral process or the administration of justice.”
The criminal complaint against Mr. Baldeo accusing him of engaging in the straw donor campaign to obtain matching funds from the city. In spite of his allegedly illegal funds, Mr. Baldeo ended up losing the crowded 2010 Council race to Ruben Wills. Authorities reportedly began investigating his campaign finances before the election was even over.
View the complaint against Mr. Baldeo below.