Six Donors To Eric Adams Indicted For Illegally Falsifying Campaign Donations

Six donors to Mayor Eric Adams’s election campaign have been indicted by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg, for allegedly cooking up a scheme where donors made illegal contributions under the names of relatives and employees. According to the D.A., they ostensibly hoped to curry favor with Adams--if he won--in order to receive favorable contracts for the construction company EcoSafety Consultants Inc.

| 10 Jul 2023 | 03:32

According to an indictment handed down by Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg last week, six individuals have allegedly perpetrated a straw donation scheme related to the Eric Adams mayoral campaign. It was reputedly concocted in order to curry favor with Adams (should he win) in the interest of securing favorable contracts, which would be steered towards the construction company EcoSafety Consultants Inc.

The individuals, identified as Dwayne Montgomery, Shamsuddin Riza, Millicent Redick, Ronald Peek, and the brothers Yahya Mushtaq & Shahid Mushtaq, are all charged with the following crimes: Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, Offering A False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, and Attempted Offering [Of] A False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree. Adams, who is indeed now the mayor, is not alleged in the indictment to have any awareness of the scheme--although he reportedly used to serve on the police force with Montgomery.

A campaign spokesperson for Mayor Adams, Evan Thies, told the The City that “there is no indication that the campaign or the mayor is involved in this case or under investigation.”

The D.A.’s office alleges that the defendants forged the scheme by taking advantage of the Matching Funds Program, whereby the first $250 donated to a candidate was met eight-to-one with public funds (or $2,000) drawn from the New York City Campaign Finance Board. Indeed, the maximum admissible donation amount for individuals stands at that $2,000--with the maximum for businesses topping out at $400. Essentially, the defendants exceeded these maximums after masking additional contributions by putting them in relatives’ names–or in the names of employees at EcoSafety, without their knowledge.

Montgomery and Riza spearheaded the initial phase of the scheme. On August 20 of 2020, Montgomery held a Zoom fundraiser with a slew of straw donors that he recruited in the weeks prior. They had “falsely certified that they were the source of the contributed funds and that they were not reimbursed,” according to the D.A.’s office. Allegedly, neither of these things were true.

The scheme continued a year later, when in July of 2021 Riza allegedly submitted more straw donations after buying eight money orders from various post offices. As per the D.A.’s office, the donations were made in the name of relatives, with falsified “contribution cards” that contained the asked-for signatures of the relatives. Another fundraiser on August 25th, 2021 allegedly used a similar scheme.

It was around this time that EcoSafety Consultants entered the picture, with Riza reputedly reaching out to the Mushtaq brothers to counsel them on straw donations. Riza was reportedly strikingly blunt about his intentions on a call with Yahya Mushtaq, telling him that “you could use a straw man,” and that employees of EcoSafety didn’t fall under the same criteria as the Mushtaq brothers would. Allegedly taking this ill-fated advice to heart, the brothers proceeded to buy money orders and submit them as donations on behalf of their employees--all without notifying the employees, of course.

According to the indictment, Ronald Peek was serving in a supporting role for both money order schemes, at one point allegedly telling Riza that “you gotta be careful cause you gotta make sure you do it through workers they trust, that’s not gonna talk, because remember a guy went to jail for that.”

Soon enough, Riza had roped Millicent Redick (his accountant) into the alleged scheme. Redick was tasked with garnering ten more straw donors in Harlem.

In a statement announcing the indictment, D.A. Bragg proclaimed “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.”

Bragg added that “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.”

Considering the extensive use of the United States Post Office to perpetrate the alleged scheme, the agency also felt compelled to weigh in on the indictment. Daniel B. Brubaker, the New York Division Inspector in Charge for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, said that “by using U.S. Postal Money Orders in a scheme to commit violations of campaign finance law, these individuals compromised the public’s trust in a fair election process. Postal Inspectors will not tolerate individuals using postal products in the furtherance of their crimes.”

The NYC Campaign Finance Board, which disburses the titular funds of the Matching Funds program, asserted that “New York City’s public matching funds program makes our local elections more open, transparent, and equitable. The work that the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is doing to protect the matching funds program from fraud and abuse is fundamental to its continued success.”

The D.A.’s office noted that the indictments were arrived at as part of a multi-pronged investigation kicked off by the Rackets Bureau, after check-cashing activity led to the uncovering of “widespread fraud” in the construction industry; two convictions have already been won for fraud cases regarding the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, and payroll insurance.

EcoSafety could not be reached by Straus News for comment as of presstime.