Mayor Adams has not ruled out the removal of the Building Department commissioner on Wednesday after it was revealed that a high-ranking New York City government official was involved in a criminal investigation.
Investigators from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office interviewed Buildings boss Eric Ulrich on Tuesday and confiscated his cell phone in an investigation that sources say focuses on illegal g*mbling.
In his first public comments since the news of the investigation came out, Adams told reporters Wednesday morning that it was “too early” to say whether or not Ulrich should be fired on the case – and especially without removing perspective entirely from the table.
“We’ll be taking it over time,” said Adams, when asked if he was considering Ulrich’s ax.
Later, at a press conference at City Hall, he added: “The district attorney’s office will review them and this review will determine how we will move forward.”
Little is known about the investigation by Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan District Attorney, and whether it concerns anyone other than Ulrich.
Ulrich, a registered Republican who served on the City Council for 12 years before joining the Adams administration, is a prolific gambler. He reported that he collected more than $ 50,000 in lottery winnings this year in his annual financial report, as well as scooped tens of thousands of dollars in g*mbling while on the Council, according to the city’s Conflicts of Interest Council.
A source familiar with the case told the Daily News that the DA’s investigation included investigating potential official measures Ulrich may have taken to settle g*mbling debts.
A spokeswoman for Bragg declined to comment after Adams’s press conference.
Ulrich could not get comment. Adams spokesman Fabien Levy said the commissioner was not in his post at the Buildings Department on Tuesday and Wednesday because he had taken “personal days” in the face of the DA dilemma.
It is unclear what the next step in Bragg’s investigation is, but Adams urged Ulrich to cooperate with any requests from the district attorney.
The mayor said he found out about Ulrich’s clash with investigators from press reports and has not spoken to him since. Chief City Hall adviser Brendan McGuire did, however, speak to Ulrich after the barbecue, Adams said.
“My main defender has contacted him and I don’t know if you will look at my schedule, but from sun to sunset I am everywhere. I had no chance – said the mayor.
Ulrich served as the mayor’s senior adviser before being elected head of the buildings in May. As a building commissioner, Ulrich earns over $ 240,000 a year and announcing your nomination this spring, Adams described him as having the characteristics of “right leadership” “at the right time for the Department of Buildings.”
McGuire, who joined Adams at Wednesday’s press conference, responded evasively to the question of whether the customary Department of Investigation background check that Ulrich went through prior to accepting the Buildings position revealed any details about g*mbling debts.
“He went through the same DOI background process that any other eligible member of the administration should go through. We do not comment on the results of this, but needless to say, this administration is taking very seriously what appears in these DOI checks, ”he said.
Pressed on whether the Ulrich background check was in any way abnormal, McGuire only said that “it is fair to assume that it was done in the normal course.”
With Harry Parker
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