Adams’ friend pleads guilty in straw donor scheme involving New York City mayor’s 2021 campaign

A longtime friend of New York City Mayor Eric Adams pleaded guilty on Monday to charges related to a scheme to obtain tens of thousands in funds from the Democrat’s 2021 campaign. 

Dwayne Montgomery, a former NYPD inspector, pleaded guilty to the alleged straw donor scheme, New York Daily News reported, citing a Manhattan District Attorney’s Office spokesperson. 

Though details of the plea agreement were not immediately available, Adams was asked about Montgomery’s guilty plea during an unrelated press conference Monday. 

“Dealing with the question around Dwayne Montgomery, the DA is handling that case,” Adams said, referring to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.  

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams speaks during media availability at City Hall on Jan. 2, 2024. Adams has not been accused of wrongdoing in a straw donor investigation by the Manhattan district attorney. (Barry Williams for New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

“I think the DA clearly reported that there was nothing our campaign did that was a part of what was done wrong. And I say let the DA handle this issue, situation.”

Adams asserted a “level of scrutiny” his campaign staffers took in calling between 16,000-17,000 donors, informing them both verbally and in writing that contributions “had to be your money.” 

“It was in writing. People had to read it before they signed the donor form or after contributing online. Then I added an additional layer of spending of thousands of dollars on a compliance attorney who matched signatures, who matched information, and made sure things were done with a level of scrutiny that deserved,” Adams explained. “And we returned back tens of thousands of donations that did not follow that muster. And so the campaign did its job. We did the review that we’re supposed to review. And I’ve always told you from the beginning, I’m confident that I know we did the internal scrutiny we’re supposed to do.” 

The mayor has not been accused of wrongdoing in connection to the Manhattan district attorney’s probe. 

Fox News Digital reached out to Bragg’s office for comment on Monday regarding Montgomery’s plea. 

Two of Montgomery’s co-defendants, brothers Shahid and Yahya Mushtaq, pleaded guilty in October to participating in the scheme. As part of their agreement, the Mushtaqs would cooperate with Bragg’s investigators as their investigation in the scheme remained ongoing, according to the Daily News. 

Other co-defendants in the case are Shamsuddin Riza, Millicent Redick, Ronald Peek, and Ecosafety Consultants, Inc. 

Court documents allege that the co-defendants engaged with each other between August 2020 and November 2021 to fraudulently obtain tens of thousands of dollars in matching funds for Adams’ 2021 New York City mayoral campaign by submitting falsified campaign contribution forms to the New York City Campaign Finance Board. 

Manhattan district attorney alvin bragg

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office is investigating an alleged straw donor campaign scheme involving Eric Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign. (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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Prosecutors alleged it was part of the conspiracy for Montgomery, Riza, Peek and others to provide funds for and to reimburse straw donors, to coordinate the campaign contributions of the straw donors through fundraiser events, and to instruct other conspirators on how to structure and disguise straw donor contributions to avoid detection. 

Meanwhile, Adams has built a hefty war chest over the past several months amid reports he is at the center of an ongoing FBI investigation. 

Adams, who has clashed with the White House on President Biden’s immigration policies as New York City grapples with the influx of more than tens of thousands of migrants from the southern border, has so far not been publicly accused of any wrongdoing as the FBI continues its investigation into alleged corruption at City Hall to benefit the Turkish government. 

Eric Adams at Cipriani

Mayor Eric Adams attends Police Commissioner Edward Caban’s “State of the New York Police Department” address on Jan. 31, 2024. Adams has denied any wrongdoing amid corruption probes. (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

In a statement in January, Adams’ longtime campaign compliance attorney confirmed that, “The Eric Adams Legal Defense Trust has drawn strong support in a short amount of time, raising more than $650,000 since it was formed just two months ago,” Fox News Digital previously reported. 

The mayor started the legal defense trust in mid-November after the FBI searched the home of Adams’ chief campaign fundraiser, 25-year-old Brianna Suggs. Federal agents seized two laptop computers, three iPhones and a manila folder labeled “Eric Adams,” according to the New York Times. 

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The FBI raid prompted Adams to suddenly return from Washington, D.C., ahead of planned visits at the White House and Congress related to the migrant crisis’ impact on the Big Apple. 

The bureau is probing whether Adams’ 2021 campaign conspired with the Turkish government and others to funnel money into its coffers. FBI agents also approached Adams directly after a Manhattan event later that month, seizing the mayor’s electronic devices, including at least two cellphones and an iPad, in carrying out a search warrant, the Times reported. 

The FBI also searched the homes of Rana Abbasova, an aide to Adams at City Hall, and Cenk Öcal, a former Turkish Airlines executive who served on the mayor’s 2021 transition team, according to Daily News.

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