Former N.Y.P.D. Union Head Charged in Fraud Case

Edward D. Mullins, the combative longtime leader of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, quit his union job and retired from the Police Department last year amid scandal.

Ed Mullins quit his union position in October and retired from the Police Department in November amid various accusations and disciplinary charges.Credit…Jefferson Siegel for The New York Times

The former president of a powerful New York City Police union has been charged with defrauding the union of hundreds of thousands of dollars by filing false and inflated expense reports for bills that were purportedly for union business but in fact were not, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.

The former union president, Edward D. Mullins, the combative longtime leader of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, sought reimbursement for hundreds of high-end meals, clothing, jewelry, home appliances and a relative’s college tuition, the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said in a court filing.

In all, Mr. Mullins, 60, was reimbursed by the union over a recent four-year period for more than $1 million in expenses, the majority of which was fraudulently obtained, the government said.

The benevolent association is the fifth largest police union in the United States, with a membership of about 13,000 active and retired police sergeants in New York, the authorities said. Mr. Mullins had run and been elected as its president for five successive four-year terms, and around 2017, the government said, he devised a scheme to fund his personal expenses thorough the union’s money.

Mr. Mullins, who surrendered to the F.B.I. on Wednesday morning, pleaded not guilty and was released on $250,000 bond at a brief hearing in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

At the hearing, Mr. Mullins, who wore a gray suit and a red striped tie, sat beside his lawyer, Marc L. Mukasey. Afterward, Mr. Mukasey waved off a gaggle of about two dozen reporters and photographers, saying “no comment” as they left the courthouse.

The prosecution represents the latest chapter in the swift collapse of the career of Mr. Mullins, a once influential police union official who retired on Nov. 5 after four decades with the department, the same day officials announced he had been found guilty of two departmental infractions and was fined $32,000 for violating rules governing the use of social media.

In one message Mr. Mullins had posted on Twitter, he made public an unredacted police report involving then-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daughter, Chiara. In other messages, Mr. Mullins used vulgar language to denigrate city officials.

Mr. Mullins had quit his union position a month earlier, hours after his Long Island home and the union’s Manhattan headquarters were raided by F.B.I. agents. At the time, the union issued a statement acknowledging the search and saying that Mr. Mullins was “apparently the target” of a federal investigation.

On Wednesday, the union did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Mr. Mullins “abused his position of trust and authority to fund a lavish lifestyle that was paid for by the monthly dues of the thousands of hard-working sergeants of the N.Y.P.D.”

The union’s active members pay annual dues of about $1,300 and its retired members make a one-time dues payment of $600, the government said.

Michael J. Driscoll, the head of the F.B.I.’s New York office, said the union was supposed to represent its members’ best interests. Mr. Mullins, he said, “went above and beyond to best serve his own interests.”

The government offered details of Mr. Mullins’s alleged scheme in a detailed charging document filed in court.

In some cases, the filing said, Mr. Mullins included meals on his expense reports that were not related to union business. In late 2019, for example, he submitted expense reports for more than $3,000 from a high-end restaurant in Greenwich Village, the filing said.

The bills, in fact, were for meals on two separate occasions by family members and personal associates of Mr. Mullins who dined at the restaurant, the government said.

In other cases, according to the filing, Mr. Mullins inflated the costs of his meals, whether they were for union business or not, “in order to steal more money” from the union, the filing said.

He also maintained two copies of his credit card statements. The first, often labeled with a sticky note bearing the words “Clean Copy,” had no additional markings. The second, often labeled “Work Copy” or “Work Sheet,” included Mr. Mullins’s handwritten annotations, showing where he had changed the amount and at times the type of expense, the court filing said.

The “Work Copy” of Mr. Mullins’s April 2021 credit card statement, for example, shows that he changed a $45.92 charge from a wine bar in New Jersey to $845.92; and that he inflated a steakhouse bill from $609.89 to $909.89, the court filing said.

It said he also altered a $185.88 charge from a Long Island supermarket to a $685.88 charge at an Italian restaurant in Manhattan.

Mr. Mullins then submitted the expenses without receipts to the union’s treasurer, who approved the reimbursements, the filing said.

In a statement, Keechant L. Sewell, the New York Police commissioner, said, “Ed Mullins allegedly violated the ethics and rules of this department, the trust of 13,000 sergeants, active and retired whom he represented, and the laws of the United States.”

Mr. Mullins, of Port Washington, N.Y., was charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

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