Thursday, one of the most influential and aggressive leaders in the history of the New York City sergeants union, Edward D. Mullins, pled guilty to federal wire fraud in a plot to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from the organization and its members.
According to Manhattan federal prosecutors, Mr. Mullins was falsely compensated for almost $1 million he spent on luxury things and meals at high-end restaurants over nearly two decades as president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association.
They claim that Mr. Mullins used his credit card for union-related costs and filed fake reimbursement requests. In February, he was charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a possible 20-year jail term.
“Edward Mullins committed to protecting the hundreds of diligent New York Police Department sergeants who are members of the S.B.A. Instead, he revealed in federal court today that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from them to support his luxurious lifestyle,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Damian Williams in a statement released on Thursday.
Mr. Williams stated that his “betrayal has been uncovered, and he now risks prison time and hefty financial consequences.”
Mr. Mullins is anticipated to be sentenced by Judge John G. Koeltl on May 25.
Mr. Mullins’ attorney, Thomas Kenniff, told reporters after the court, “He realized he was wrong and took responsibility. We hope the judge will treat him properly when he is sentenced.”
The guilty plea closes the case against the disgraced union leader, who came to national prominence as a fierce supporter of former President Donald J. Trump and a fervent opponent of police reform.
It is also one of the most extensive probes of a local union head since the inquiry into the financial activities of politically linked prison officers’ union leader Norman Seabrook. Mr. Seabrook was found guilty in 2018 of funneling $20 million from the union into a high-risk hedge fund in return for a $100,000 bribe.
In New York, Mr. Mullins was seen as a ferocious supporter of prior sergeants and was well-known for his bombastic and sometimes offensive comments. In 2020, after two cops were shot in a Bronx precinct, he vowed war on former Mayor Bill de Blasio. After Mr. Mullins tweeted a police report describing the arrest of Mr. de Blasio’s daughter, Chiara, during rallies against police brutality and racial justice, tensions between them increased.
During the same year, he referred to Dr. Oxiris Barbot, the city’s health commissioner, using a filthy term on Twitter. In a second tweet, he disparaged Representative Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat and City Council member at the time. He was fined around $32,000 in 2021 for breaching Police Department social media policies.
Federal prosecutors said in the wire fraud complaint that Mr. Mullins paid for a relative’s college tuition and used his credit card to purchase luxury jewelry, clothes, household appliances, and food between 2017 and October 2021. In 2019, he also requested a $3,000 compensation for non-union-related meals at a Greenwich Village eatery.
Then, Mr. Mullins submitted amended cost reports to the union treasurer but delivered receipts seldom. According to authorities, the treasurer sent Mr. Mullins cheques to compensate him. He would deposit the checks and pay his credit card bills with the funds.
He also altered his credit card bills to make products seem to cost more than they did. According to prosecutors, he routinely retained two versions of these statements: a “clean copy” and a “work copy” loaded with scribbled notes.
John Driscoll, adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and former president of the city police captains’ union, was perplexed that the plot had been discovered for so many years.
Mr. Mullins resigned as leader of the sergeants’ union in October 2021, only hours after federal agents searched his house in Port Washington, Long Island, and the organization’s offices in Manhattan. A month later, he resigned from the Police Department. In February 2022, he was charged and surrendered to the FBI.
The police commissioner at the time, Keechant Sewell, said that officers collaborated with the FBI’s public corruption section to investigate Mr. Mullins.