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Ex-NYPD deputy inspector sentenced in Mayor Adams campaign straw donor scheme

Molly Crane-Newman, New York Daily News on

Published in News & Features

NEW YORK — A former NYPD deputy inspector who was friendly with Mayor Eric Adams was sentenced to community service Tuesday for his ringleader role in a straw donor scheme that gamed the system to boost the mayor’s 2021 City Hall run and curry political favors.

Dwayne Montgomery, 64, received 200 hours of community service — which he agreed to with prosecutors before he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor-level conspiracy in February — and a $500 fine. He’s already completed 42 hours with BKLYN Combine, a community organization that provides social support programs to Black teens and young adults citywide.

Per the terms of his plea deal, Montgomery is prohibited from hosting political fundraisers or soliciting contributions on behalf of any campaign for a year.

The retired cop who overlapped with Adams at the police department is one of three men who’ve admitted to illegally donating and directing others to contribute to Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign in an elaborate straw donor scheme between August 2020 and November 2021. Shamsuddin Riza, Millicent Redick and Ronald Peek remain charged with conspiracy, attempted grand larceny, and related offenses. They deny wrongdoing.

A spokesman for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg declined to comment.

The cash funneled to Adams’ campaign in others’ names triggered a major injection of cash from a program by the city’s Campaign Finance Board that matches donations of up to $250 by eight to one, allowing the scheme’s architects to subvert caps on how much they could donate. Montgomery, who organized and hosted more than one fundraiser for Adams, reimbursed straw donors who falsely certified they were contributing of their own volition, according to court docs.

Last month, Shahid Mushtaq and Yahya Mushtaq, two brothers who own Queens construction firm EcoSafety Consultants, were sentenced to 35 hours of community service and ordered to pay modest fines in a deferred prosecution agreement with the DA’s office. Both pleaded guilty to related offenses in October along with their company and are cooperating in an investigation examining the straw donor scheme, the New York Daily News previously reported.

Prosecutors say Montgomery, the Mushtaqs, and others hoped to leverage the donations to score money-making contracts once Adams took office.

Reached for comment, Montgomery’s lawyer, Anthony Ricco, said he was not cooperating in the broader probe and pushed back on the allegations that his client participated in the scheme with the expectation that he’d be reimbursed with Adams’ influence.

“This indictment didn’t happen until the mayor had been in office almost 18 months,” Ricco said, noting Montgomery wasn’t accused of soliciting favors in that time.

“He was a friend of the mayor — he didn’t even do this to get the mayor’s ear … If it wasn’t for this case, Dwayne would have been on the short list (for police commissioner).”

 

Ricco said his client was “a novice when it comes to politics” and was happy to stop fundraising for a year. He added that he was in talks with the community service provider about staying on after completing his sentence.

“Dwayne Montgomery gave a lifetime of service to the city of New York, putting his life on the line every day on various levels,” Ricco said. “This obviously was an aberration for him.”

Adams has not been accused of wrongdoing and has vehemently denied knowledge of the scheme Montgomery participated in. But in the July 2023 indictment, prosecutors quoted Montgomery describing the then-mayoral candidate as having some awareness of the group’s fundraising efforts.

In a July 2021 phone call cited in the charging papers, Montgomery told his co-defendant, construction contractor Riza, of one fundraiser, “(Adams) said he doesn’t want to do anything if he doesn’t get 25 Gs.”

A spokesman for Adams’ 2021 campaign did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment on Tuesday’s outcome. The mayor defended Montgomery after his plea as a good guy who made a regrettable decision and said he had not seen him since before the alleged conduct occurred.

“If I were to see him somewhere, I would say, ‘Hey, Dwayne, how are you doing, I wish the best for you,’” the mayor said.

The mayor’s 2021 campaign is separately embroiled in an FBI investigation for possible collusion with the government of Turkey to score foreign donations, which last year saw the feds seize his electronic devices and raid the homes of his top campaign fundraiser, 25-year-old Brianna Suggs, and Rana Abbasova, from his office of International Affairs. Adams has not been accused of wrongdoing in the federal probe.

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(With Chris Sommerfeldt.)

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©2024 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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