On Monday, New York City Democratic leader Albert Baldeo was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison. He was convicted of seven counts of obstruction of justice in August of last year.
Baldeo was originally charged with three counts of fraud related to the use of straw donors to qualify for taxpayer matching funds for 2010 for his unsuccessful City Council campaign. The scheme was exposed in a New York Post story of October 11, 2011, based on information provided by the National Legal and Policy Center as part of our investigation into U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and his political network.
Baldeo was acquitted of the fraud charges but was convicted of attempting to prevent the straw donors from cooperating with the investigation.
In the 2010 City Council election, the seat was won by Ruben Mills. Mills was arrested in May 2014 for allegedly looting a nonprofit group he controlled, while serving as Chief of Staff to State Senator Shirley Huntley, who was convicted of looting another nonprofit in January 2013. The investigations were apparently prompted by a New York Post story of March 2011 exposing Huntley’s fraud, based on information provided by NLPC obtained during our Meeks investigation.
Baldeo is a close Meeks associate. The two shared an office from 2006 to 2009. The two have jointly sponsored workshops and programs on immigration and mortgage foreclosure. Meeks even arranged for a Congressional Proclamation in 2009 that called Baldeo a “visionary leader” and thanked him for his community service. See photo.
From a statement by Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, whose office prosecuted the case:
Albert Baldeo tried through intimidation and harassment to obstruct the government’s investigation of his alleged fraudulent campaign practices. The obstruction of justice by a political official has no place in our politics, but it shows how officials who see fit to hold themselves above the rules will inevitably see fit to hold themselves above the law, and finish not fit to hold office. This has been all too common in New York City and New York State. Today’s sentence is a fitting punishment for Baldeo’s crimes, and a reminder that this Office and its law enforcement partners will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute political corruption.