Democratic District Leader Al Baldeo of Ozone Park, facing trial on campaign finance violation charges, filed a motion this week asking a federal judge to drop all the charges against him, arguing that the case is a example of “overreach.”
Baldeo, who twice ran for the City Council and ran for state Senate in 2008, is accused of using straw donors in order to get matching funds during a 2010 campaign for City Council in a special election to replace Tom White. He was arrested last October and is facing charges of fraud and obstruction of justice.
A letter released to the media Monday from “Concerned Leaders of South East Queens” announced that Baldeo’s lawyers were seeking to have the charges dismissed, arguing that the prosecution has no case due to inconsistent witness testimony and the fact that Baldeo did not file for matching funds.
“The bedrock of the prosecution’s case is based solely on a handful of contradictory witnesses, all of whom were coerced to change their statements by the government in return for non-prosecution agreements,” the letter reads. “There is not a shred of independent or reliable evidence against Mr. Baldeo.”
The letter also alleges that Baldeo is the target of a “witch hunt” and argues that similar indiscretions by other “establishment” candidates have not been similarly prosecuted. In a statement, Baldeo’s attorney, Henry Mazurek, said his client was being unfairly targeted.
“We hope, at least, that this example of the gross misuse of law enforcement authority shines a light on the failures of a political system which not only prevents people like Albert Baldeo from participating in public life, but also punishes those who seek to confront the established status quo, in order to help their communities gain their fair share of recognition and resources,” the statement said.
Baldeo’s trial is slated to begin in September.