Posted on: July 31, 2023, 09:15h.
Last updated on: July 31, 2023, 09:34h.
Democrat Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, has found himself engulfed in an illegal gambling scandal after the New York Daily News reported on allegations that the mayor tipped off his buildings commissioner regarding a probe from the Manhattan district attorney’s office into the official’s alleged ties to an underground gambling ring.
Adams appointed Republican Eric Ulrich, a former city council member representing Queens who supported Adams’ mayoral campaign to the position of buildings commissioner in May 2022. The NYC Department of Buildings regulates the city’s zoning codes. The commissioner is paid nearly $250K per year.
Ulrich resigned from the post seven months later in November 2022 after Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office served Ulrich a search warrant for his Queens home. The law enforcement investigation is supposedly centered around Ulrich’s ties to an illegal gambling hub in Queens.
Ulrich has conceded his past struggles with alcoholism and gambling.
“The COVID pandemic has affected people in different ways. I regret to say that I developed a drinking problem,” Ulrich wrote in a Facebook post last year. “What used to be mainly a social activity, and a way to cope with stress, has now become too frequent and self-destructive.”
The New York Daily News reports that sources close to the ongoing investigation revealed to the media outlet that Ulrich is allegedly snitching on his former boss. Ulrich, according to the Daily News, told investigators that Adams tipped him off to the probe months before he was served a search warrant.
Ulrich reportedly told Manhattan DA prosecutors that Adams told him to “watch your back and watch your phones” while they attended an event for the NYC Department of Buildings Construction Safety Week in early May 2022. The former buildings commissioner said the mayor relayed that “a little birdie” told him Ulrich was linked to an investigation into an underground gambling hub in Queens.
The probe is reportedly focused on a Queens businessman named Joseph Livreri whose Ozone Park pizzeria, Aldo’s, allegedly served as a front for an illegal gambling operation. Livreri also allegedly ran unlicensed card games and gambling machines out of his 101 Café in Ozone Park.
Ulrich reportedly told investigators he stopped patronizing Livreri’s gambling hub in 2021, but did relay Adams’ comments to Livreri after the mayor allegedly tipped him off.
The New York Daily News said the DA’s office, as well as lawyers for Livreri and Ulrich, declined to comment or could not be reached.
Mayor Stresses Integrity
The Manhattan DA investigating one of Adams’ former top officials is another black eye to the mayor’s tenure. Earlier this year, Adams’ administration faced criticism for accepting straw donations from New York City contractors who allegedly structured illegal campaign contributions to the mayor to receive political favors.
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 said earlier this month.
Adams hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing in the campaign contributions scandal. The mayor this week stressed that integrity is at the center of his administration.
“At the heart of this administration is integrity,” Adams said. “This administration is an administration that believes we must be beyond reproach. I sleep well every night.”