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Former City Council candidate and current Queens District Leader Albert Baldeo turned himself in to the FBI Wednesday on charges of fraud and obstruction of justice, the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said Wednesday.
Baldeo is an attorney with a practice in Ozone Park.
“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, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
“Baldeo even allegedly used fear and intimidation to prevent others from exposing his conduct. 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,” Bharara said.
Baldeo, 52, a Democrat, is accused of using fake donors for his campaign to receive matching funds from the city. He is also charged with obstructing the government’s investigation, according to the U.S. attorney.
The charges stem from an unsuccessful run for the 28th Council District seat in 2010, when Baldeo lost in the special election to now-Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica). He also ran for Council in 2005 and state Senate the following year.
The FBI alleges Baldeo provided money orders or cash to individuals to contribute in their own name, the U.S. attorney said. After discovering he was under investigation, Baldeo instructed the straw donors to “provide false information to, or not cooperate with, the FBI agents who were investigating contributions to his campaign,” according to investigators.
Baldeo is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, one count of attempting to commit mail fraud, one count of conspiring to obstruct justice, and one count of obstruction of justice. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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