News Americas, QUEENS, NY, Weds. Aug. 13, 2014: Guyana-born attorney and former Queens District Leader, Albert Baldeo, was this week found guilty of tampering with witnesses during the investigation of his alleged campaign fraud by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”).
Baldeo, 54, of Richmond Hill, NY, was convicted of seven counts of obstruction of justice in Manhattan federal court after a two-week trial before U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Baldeo was acquitted of three fraud-related counts relating to approximately $15,000 in claims for city matching funds from the CFB which were never awarded.
Baldeo is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Crotty on December 16, 2014, at 11 a.m.
According to the complaint, indictment, and superseding indictment and evidence presented at trial, in the fall of 2010, Baldeo, then a Queens District Leader of a political party and attorney, participated in a scheme to defraud New York City that involved the funneling of multiple illegal campaign contributions to his ultimately unsuccessful campaign for City Council.
On various occasions, Baldeo, and in at least one instance one of Baldeo’s employees, provided money orders or cash to individuals to contribute to the campaign in their own names, even though Baldeo supplied the funds and these individuals did not contribute any of their own money or reimburse him for these donations.
As part of this scheme, Baldeo gave each such donor, commonly referred to as a “straw donor,” a campaign contribution card in which he or she wrote his or her name, address, employment information, and the amount of money purportedly donated to the Baldeo campaign.
He instructed the straw donors to sign the contribution cards falsely affirming that the contribution was being made from their personal funds and was not being reimbursed in any manner. The New York City Campaign Finance Board (“CFB”) relied upon the information contained in these fraudulent contribution forms, among other things, in order to determine whether to release public matching campaign funds to Baldeo’s 2010 campaign.
Moreover, as part of this scheme, Baldeo instructed several of these straw donors to sign affidavits, at least one of which was actually provided to the CFB, that also falsely asserted that these straw donors’ contributions were made using their own funds.
After learning of the FBI’s investigation of this matter, Baldeo obstructed the investigation by repeatedly instructing certain straw donors to provide false information to, or not cooperate with, the FBI agents who were investigating contributions to his campaign.
“The fact that Albert Baldeo lost his election does not excuse his corrupt conduct,” said U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara. “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.”