Charges dropped against defendant in straw donor case involving contributors to NYC Mayor Eric Adams

NEW YORK — Charges were dismissed Tuesday against one of the six people accused in a campaign finance scheme aimed at trying to curry favor with then-candidate and now Mayor Eric Adams.

Ronald Peek, 66, was one of six defendants including a retired NYPD inspector indicted in July 2023 for conspiring to evade campaign finance laws in 2020 and 2021 by funneling money to the Adams campaign through straw donors.

On Tuesday, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Zachary Weintraub cited Peek’s lack of a criminal record and government service in both New York and Florida in formally agreeing to the dismissal in a hearing before Judge Althea Drysdale. He noted Peek did not profit in any way from the alleged scheme.

Prosecutors have said neither Adams nor the campaign were aware of the efforts.

The dismissal came after Peek’s lawyer Ian Niles submitted a motion to dismiss in the interests of justice on May 28, Niles said.

“There was no apparent intent by Mr. Peek to do anything unlawful,” Niles said Tuesday. “He was contacted to get some advice and provided some advice to someone he had met. He gained nothing from the situation. He had nothing to do with the straw donors.”

Peek was not present for the hearing, an arrangement that was approved by Drysdale, Niles said.

“He’s ready to get back to his life. It’s been difficult,” Niles said.

Richard Bamberger, a spokesman for Peek, said Peek worked for New York State under Gov. Mario Cuomo and for three governors in Florida including Jeb Bush.

Niles said his New York State service involved work in economic development and minority and women-owned business development. In Florida, he worked with the Black Business Investment Board.

Bamberger and Niles said Peek was the first African-American firefighter for the city of Troy, N.Y., and was injured in a fire in 1994 or 1995 while working for that department.

He suffered an ankle injury that required surgery and forced him to leave the department, Niles said.

Four of the other defendants, including retired NYPD Inspector Dwayne Montgomery and contractor Shamsuddin Riza have pleaded guilty to reduced charges.

One open case now remains – against Millicent Redick, a 78-year-old retired accountant from Harlem who has so far declined a misdemeanor plea offer.

None of the six worked for the campaign, which has not been accused of wrongdoing.

The original July 7, 2023, indictment said Peek “advised Riza and others on how to structure the contributions and on other matters relevant to the conspiracy, including how to avoid detection by the CFB.”

The indictment alleged Peek and Shamsuddin discussed the scheme by phone three times in July 2021.

In August 2021, the indictment alleged Riza asked Peek to call co-conspirator Shahid Mushtaq of a construction safety firm called EcoSafety Consultants and assist him to gathering straw donations from employees of the company. Mushtag and his brother Yahya Mushtaq have also both pleaded guilty.

“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,” Peek said on Aug. 6 2021, according to the indictment.

Later that month, Peek allegedly told Riza he had given Montgomery $5,400 in checks to be contributed to the campaign, the indictment said.