UNITED STATES NEWS

Former NYC buildings commissioner accused of trading favors for cash, Mets tickets and more

Sep 13, 2023, 8:54 AM | Updated: 1:02 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City’s onetime top building-safety official was arrested Wednesday on charges that he accepted cash, baseball tickets, a discounted luxury apartment and other bribes from at least five associates, repaying them with political favors and access to high-ranking officials, including Mayor Eric Adams.

Former Buildings Commissioner Eric Ulrich and six co-defendants were arraigned on conspiracy charges related to a series of bribery schemes. Each of the defendants pleaded not guilty during a shared arraignment in Manhattan criminal court on Wednesday afternoon.

Besides serving as Adams’ buildings chief, Ulrich, 38, was a city councilman and senior adviser to the first-term mayor.

In each of those roles, Ulrich “took advantage of his taxpayer-funded positions to line his own pockets,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said during a press conference. He collected an estimated $150,000 in gifts and cash over a two-year period, much of which he spent on gambling at legal and illegal casinos, according to prosecutors.

Bragg and Adams are Democrats. Ulrich, who raised money for Adams’ campaign, is a Republican.

Ulrich resigned from his post as city buildings commissioner last November, six months after his appointment, amid reports that he was being questioned by prosecutors as part of an investigation into illegal gambling and organized crime.

He was named Wednesday in five separate indictments. They allege that Ulrich used his position to dole out favors to his associates and secure them access to top officials, including the mayor.

Shortly after his election, Adams met with Ulrich and two brothers, Anthony and Joseph Livreri, inside a Queens lounge, according to one indictment.

The Livreri brothers are among those now charged with bribing Ulrich. Prosecutors say they and a towing magnate, Michael Mazzio, gave Ulrich cash — which he used partly to fund wagers at public casinos and under-the-table gambling clubs — and premium Mets tickets valued at nearly $10,000.

Ulrich helped the brothers speed up inspections and permits for a pizzeria and bakery, according to prosecutors. They said he also helped Mazzio try to secure exclusive towing contracts with the city and got Mazzio’s daughter a city Correction Department job.

When the pizzeria was shut down by the health department, Ulrich made multiple phone calls to top Adams staffers to arrange a reinspection, describing the establishment as “the Mayor’s favorite restaurant,” according to court papers. The following day, Ulrich allegedly requested a $300 cash payment from Joseph Livreri.

The mayor has not been accused of wrongdoing. In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Adams, Charles Lutvak, said the mayor’s office “has not received any requests from the Manhattan DA surrounding this matter and has never spoken to Mr. Ulrich about this investigation.”

“We always expect all our employees to adhere to the strictest ethical guidelines,” the statement continued.

The investigation also concerned Ulrich’s relationship with a Brooklyn real estate developer, Kevin Caller. Prosecutors said Caller rented a luxury apartment — complete with furniture and a free parking space — to the buildings commissioner at a reduced price in exchange for political favors.

Among them: trying to get a zoning change that suited Caller’s plans for a Queens property and prompting an inspection of a low-income apartment building next door, in hopes that it would be ordered vacated, according to prosecutors.

Caller’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said his client rented an apartment to Ulrich at market rate and never requested anything in return.

In addition to Caller and the Livreri brothers, the other defendants are Paul Grego, a Department of Buildings employee; and Victor Truta, a former corrections officer.

Ulrich joined the Adams administration in January 2022, initially as a senior advisor, before taking over the buildings agency — a department that enforces building codes, issues permits and responds to structural emergencies in a city with more than a million buildings.

Previously, Ulrich represented a Queens district in the City Council, first winning his seat in a special election in 2009.

United States News

Associated Press

Kansas governor and GOP leaders say they have a deal on tax cuts to end 2 years of stalemate

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ Democratic governor and top Republican lawmakers say they have an agreement on a package of broad tax cuts, potentially ending a two-year political standoff that has prevented their state from following others in making big reductions. The deal announced late Thursday by Gov. Laura Kelly and GOP leaders would save […]

60 minutes ago

Associated Press

A week of disorder in Cleveland, as City Hall remains closed after cyber threat

CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland’s City Hall remained closed to the public Friday, as officials in Ohio’s second-largest city continued to grapple with the effects of a cyber threat. City operations have been hampered all week by the threat, which was first detected Sunday. The nature of the threat, its cause and how extensively it affected […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Move over grizzlies and wolves: Yellowstone visitors hope to catch a glimpse of rare white buffalo

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — Standing at the edge of a bluff overlooking the Lamar River in Yellowstone National Park, TJ Ammond stared through binoculars at hundreds of buffalo dotting the verdant valley below. Tan-colored calves frolicked near their mothers while hulking bulls wallowed in mud. As his wife and young children clustered behind […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Her dying husband worried she’d have money troubles. Then she won the lottery

FREEPORT, Pa. (AP) — In the weeks before his death, Karen Coffman’s husband worried she might have money troubles after he was gone. But two weeks before he died in April of complications from a brain tumor, the Pennsylvania woman bought a scratch-off state lottery ticket that netted her $1 million. “When I told him […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Judge says trial is required to decide government’s antitrust case over Google’s advertising tech

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday said the government’s antitrust case against Google over its advertising technology will go to trial in September, rejecting both sides’ request to rule in their favor as a matter of law. The Justice Department and Google had been expected to make their arguments seeking summary judgment […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Vermont governor vetoes data privacy bill, saying state would be most hostile to businesses

Vermont’s governor has vetoed a broad data privacy bill that would have been one of the strongest in the country to crack down on companies’ use of online personal data by letting consumers file civil lawsuits against companies that break certain privacy rules. Republican Gov. Phil Scott said in his veto message late Thursday that […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Former NYC buildings commissioner accused of trading favors for cash, Mets tickets and more