The Manhattan district attorney’s office is investigating an illegal gambling probe. And a high-ranking official may have played a role in the betting operation.
Eric Ulrich, the Department of Buildings commissioner, recently had his phone seized and was questioned by the district attorney’s office in relation to the probe, according to the New York Times and the New York Daily News. Ulrich’s connected to the investigation remains unclear.
The probe relates to events that took place before Ulrich’s move to Department of Buildings commissioner, according to the New York Times.
Details of illegal New York gambling probe
Reports emerged that an investigation conducted by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg included a search warrant to seize Ulrich’s cell phone and question him.
While details have not officially been divulged regarding the investigation, sources confirmed with the New York Daily News that it focused on illegal gambling.
At a press conference, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said:
“I do not take reports that are in the media as what actually took place,” he said. “I have not heard from the reviewing body, they have not communicated to me, so I don’t know what the allegations are. Because people print it or rumoring those things, I don’t know.”
Adams-appointed commissioner resigns amid investigation
Ulrich sat as a member of City Council for 12 years. He also served as a senior adviser to Adams early in the administration, before the mayor promoted Ulrich to his current promotion in May of this year.
Amid this criminal investigation, Ulrich stepped down from his role. He submitted his resignation so as to not be a “distracting” element for the Adams administration. Ulrich’s decision stands as the first resignation by an Adams-appointed commissioner.
“I respect that decision,” Adams said during an unrelated press conference, “and for his family and for the commissioner, we wish him well as he goes through this review.”
According to mayoral spokesman Fabien Levy, Ulrich’s deputy Kazimir Vilenchik will step into the role of acting commissioner.
Ulrich no stranger to the spotlight
Ulrich has been in the news in recent years for gambling related matters. In 2016, the Daily News reported he’d won between $10,000 and $12,000 playing slot machines. In response to questioning about his winnings, Ulrich sad:
“I guess I’m a lucky guy.”
That same year, Ulrich claimed to have won between $5,000 and $47,999 in winnings from betting. Ulrich reported the earnings on a disclosure form sent to New York City’s Conflicts of Interest Board.
Ulrich has continuously claimed to have won an amount within that range each year since 2016.
In 2018, Robert Pisani, an associate of the Bonanno crime family, stood trial for his role in a conspiracy case involving an illegal betting operation. Ulrich penned a letter in support of Pisani during sentencing.
Pisani later earned a sentence of 30 months in prison. Pisani was also found guilty of sexual assualt on an employee of All-American Bagel and Barista Company in Howard Beach, which he owns.