New York Daily News: MANHATTAN – Firebrand former NYPD union boss Ed Mullins surrendered to federal authorities Wednesday after being hit with an indictment charging him with plundering his union’s bank accounts for more than $1 million.
The charges center around Mullins’ alleged misuse of union money as president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, a post he held for 19 years before stepping down in disgrace amid the FBI probe.
The bombastic union head known for his inflammatory tweets and rhetoric surrendered at FBI headquarters in lower Manhattan Wednesday morning. The charges against him were unsealed in Manhattan Federal Court hours later.
“As alleged, Edward Mullins, the former president of the SBA, abused his position of trust and authority to fund a lavish lifestyle that was paid for by the monthly dues of the thousands of hardworking sergeants of the NYPD,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams.
“Mullins submitted hundreds of phony expense reports to further his scheme, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the SBA.”
Williams said Mullins defrauded the union by using his personal credit card to pay for meals at high-end restaurants and to pay for clothing, jewelry, home appliances and a relative’s college tuition, among other things.
Mullins then submitted false and inflated expense reports to the SBA, the feds say. Between 2017 and October 2020, Mullins sought reimbursement for those bills as legitimate SBA expenditures when in fact they were not, Williams said.
The money came from a fund that was made up almost entirely of member dues, officials said.
Former SBA President Ed Mullins, at right, leaves federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday after being arraigned on corruption charges – GREGG VIGLIOTTI/for New York Daily News
Not only weren’t the expenses legit — they were inflated, officials said. For example, if the actual cost of a meal was $522.55, Mullins would seek reimbursement from the SBA for $822.55, and pocket the difference, according to prosecutors.
In April 2021, Mullins changed a $45.92 charge to an $845.92 charge at a wine bar in New Jersey; a $609.89 charge to a $909.89 charge at a steakhouse restaurant, and a $185.88 charge at a supermarket on Long Island to a $685.88 charge at an Italian restaurant in Manhattan, according to court records.
Mullins then submitted those fraudulent expenses, without receipts, to the treasurer for reimbursement, officials said.
Altogether, Mullins was reimbursed for more than $1 million dollars in expenses from the SBA, the majority of which were bogus, prosecutors said.
Front page for Oct. 6, 2021: Union big Mullins quits as FBI raids his home and office. Federal agents haul material Tuesday from offices of the Sergeants Benevolent Association’s offices in manhattan. Long Island home of union boss Ed Mullin’s (left) was also raided – New York Daily News
Mullins, 60, was charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Mullins’ attorney Marc Mukasey declined to comment on the charges.
After he pleaded not guilty at arraignment, Mullins was released on a $250,000 personal recognizance bond. Under the terms of his release, he was ordered to surrender his passport and turn in his weapon. He cannot leave the metropolitan area, and is to have no contact with the union other than normal contact as a dues-paying member.
FBI agents raided the SBA’s Manhattan office on Franklin St. and Mullins’ Long Island home on Oct. 5. A parade of FBI agents, clutching boxes and a black garbage bag, emerged from the SBA offices and loaded their cargo into a waiting minivan before heading off. One of the boxes appeared to hold a hard drive and another was filled with what looked like electronics equipment.
An FBI spokeswoman confirmed to The News at the time that the agency was “carrying out a law enforcement action in connection with an ongoing investigation” into the SBA shortly after the coordinated seizures began.
Mullins resigned from the union that day.
“The nature and scope of this criminal investigation has yet to be determined,” a letter from the board sent to the union membership following Mullins ouster. “However, it is clear that President Mullins is apparently the target of the federal investigation. We have no reason to believe that any other member of the SBA is involved or targeted in this matter.”
FBI Agents are seen carrying boxes after raiding the Sergeants Benevolent Association headquarters in downtown Manhattan on Oct 5, 2021 – Luiz C. Ribeiro/for New York Daily News
Mullins joined the NYPD in 1982, became a sergeant in 1993 and was elected union president in 2002. He earned $88,757 from the union in 2018, on top of his NYPD salary of $130,542, records show. The SBA is the fifth-largest police union in the country.
“As public servants, members of the SBA pay dues to a union that’s supposed to represent their best interests,” said Michael Driscoll, the FBI’s New York assistant director-in-charge. “As SBA president, Mullins allegedly went above and beyond to best serve his own interests. Our NYPD sergeants expect and deserve more from their union leadership than they received.”
The federal probe may have been triggered by the city comptroller’s office, which a year ago requested an audit of the SBA’s books, one source said.
A previous FBI probe against Mullins roughly seven years ago concluded with no charges being brought, sources say.
Former SBA President Ed Mullens leaves federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday after being arraigned for corruption charges – GREGG VIGLIOTTI/for New York Daily News
According to prosecutors, Mullins took advantage of lax oversight that began during a leadership change in 2017 that brought a new treasurer to the union.
“The treasurer did not scrutinize the expense reports in the same manner as the prior vice president had, and, in particular, did not regularly require receipts for Mullins’ reimbursements in particular,” according to a Justice Department statement.
The new treasurer approved hundreds of expense reports for Mullins totaling more than $1 million, the statement said.
At the time of his arrest and retirement, Mullins faced an NYPD inquiry over allegedly inappropriate tweets targeting then-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daughter and a Bronx congressman.
The tweets that got him in trouble were not Mullins’ only controversial statements.
One day before the October FBI raids at his home and the SBA office, Mullins accused de Blasio of union busting for a plan to use a private security firm to oversee the troubled Rikers Island jail complex.
A day before that, using the hashtag #WeAreBarry, Mullins and the union tweeted a statement in support of Sgt. Hugh Barry, who is facing a departmental trial for fatally shooting a bat-wielding mentally ill elderly woman, Deborah Danner, in her Bronx home in 2016.
In September, about a month before his unceremonious exit from the SBA, Mullins donated $400 to retired NYPD Captain Eric Adams’ successful mayoral campaign.
“He’s a cop, you know,” Mullins told the Daily News when asked about his support of Adams. “A lot of the things Eric says I kind of like. I think he understands policing.”
Adams returned Mullins’ campaign contribution after The News reported on the donation.
Mullins was also an avowed supporter of former President Donald Trump.
An Adams spokesman on Wednesday declined comment on the charges Mullins faces.