As the campaign investigation intensifies, the FBI seizes Eric Adams’ phones

FBI agents seized Mayor Eric Adams’ electronic devices earlier this week in what appeared to be a dramatic expansion of a federal corruption investigation into whether his 2021 campaign conspired with the Turkish government and others to siphon money into its coffers. said.

Agents approached the mayor on the street Monday and asked him to leave his security detail, one of the people said. They got into his SUV with him and took his devices, according to a court-approved warrant, the person said. The devices — at least two cell phones and an iPad — were returned to the mayor within days, the people said. Law enforcement investigators with a search warrant can make copies of the devices after seizing them.

Mr. A lawyer for Adams and his campaign said in a statement that the mayor “immediately complied with the FBI’s request and provided them with electronic devices” after an event on Monday.

Attorney, Boyd Johnson, Mr. Adams has not been charged with wrongdoing and noted that he cooperated with federal authorities.

“After learning of the federal investigation, it was recently discovered that a person had committed misconduct,” Mr. Johnson said. “In the spirit of transparency and cooperation, this conduct was promptly and promptly reported to investigators.”

The report did not identify the individual, describe the behavior reported to authorities, or clarify whether the reported misconduct was related to the seizure of the mayor’s devices. It was also not immediately clear whether the agents were referring to the fundraising investigation when they took the mayor’s devices.

Mr. Adams, in his own statement, said, “As a former member of law enforcement, I expect all of my employees to follow the law and cooperate fully with any type of investigation — and I will continue to do so.” He also said that he had nothing to hide.

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Mr. The seizure of Adams’ devices was an unusual development and appeared to be the first direct instance of a campaign contribution investigation touching on the mayor. A retired police captain, Mr. Adams said Wednesday that he was very strict in urging his staff to “follow the law.” He laughed thinking he had some criminal exposure.

Spokesmen for the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, whose attorneys are also investigating the matter, declined to comment.

Mr. The federal investigation into Adams’ campaign burst into public view on November 2, when FBI agents searched the home of the mayor’s chief fundraiser and seized two laptop computers, three iPhones and a manila folder labeled “Eric Adams.”

The fundraiser, Briana Suggs, 25, a former coach, has not spoken publicly since the ordeal.

Mr. Adams responded to news of the raid with an abrupt return from Washington, D.C., where he had been for a day of meetings with the White House and congressional leaders on immigration, an issue that threatens to “destroy New York.” city.”

On Wednesday, he said he made the sudden return out of his desire to join his team and out of concern for Ms Sucks, who said she had been through a “traumatic experience”.

“Even though I’m mayor, I don’t stop being a man and a human being,” he said.

But he also said he did not speak to Ms Suggs on the day of the raid to avoid appearing to interfere with the ongoing investigation.

Mr. A warrant obtained by the FBI sought evidence of a conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws between members of Adams’ campaign, the Turkish government or Turkish citizens and its owners, KSK Construction, a Brooklyn-based developer. Originally from Turkey. The warrant also sought records of donations from Bay Atlantic University in Washington, D.C., whose founder is from Turkey and the school is affiliated with Mr. Adams visited Turkey in 2015 as Brooklyn’s borough president.

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The warrant, reviewed by The New York Times, alleges that the Turkish government or Turkish nationals used the so-called straw donation program to help Mr. Authorities are looking into whether donations were made to Adams that listed contributors with no actual source of funds. . Mr. New York City’s generous public convenience program The warrant also inquired about Adams’ campaign spending, in which New York City offers an eight-to-one match for the first $250 of residents’ donations.

Federal authorities also requested evidence that any Adams campaign members provided any benefits to Turkey or the construction company in exchange for campaign donations.

Mr. This isn’t the first time Adams or those in his orbit have attracted law enforcement scrutiny. In September, Mr. Eric Ulrich, a former buildings commissioner and senior adviser to Adams, told Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg was indicted on 16 felony counts, including bribery and conspiracy.

On charges of conspiring to make illegal donations to the mayor’s 2021 campaign, Mr. Mr. Adams is accused of six people, including a retired police inspector. Bragg charged.

Separately, the city’s Department of Investigation was investigating the role of one of the mayor’s closest advisers, Timothy Pearson, in a violent fight at a migrant center in Manhattan.

Mr. Adams had run-ins with the law before becoming mayor. Soon after he was elected Brooklyn borough president, he organized an event to raise money for a new nonprofit, One Brooklyn, which had not yet registered with the state. The invitation list was based on donor lists for nonprofits run by his predecessor, records show.

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Mr. A city Department of Investigation investigation concluded that Adams and his nonprofit groups improperly solicited funds from groups with pending or soon-to-be pending matters in his office. Mr. Adams’ office insisted to investigators that the slipups occurred early in his administration and promised to comply with the law.

Earlier, Mr. While Adams was a New York state senator, he was the state inspector general detected He and other Senate Democrats fraternized with lobbyists and accepted significant campaign contributions from those associated with competitors for the video lottery contract at Aqueduct Racetrack.

In response to a Times investigation into his fundraising record in 2021, Mr. Adams studied part of his race.

“Black candidates for office are often held to a high, unfair standard — especially those from low-income backgrounds like myself,” he said in a statement at the time. “None of my campaigns have been charged with a serious fundraising violation, and no contribution has influenced my decision-making as a public official.” He added: “I didn’t go from being a law enforcer to a law breaker.”

Mr. Adams isn’t the first city mayor whose fundraising has attracted a federal rating. In 2017, federal prosecutors investigated episodes in which then-Mayor Bill de Blasio or his surrogates solicited donations from people seeking assistance from the city and then sued city agencies on their behalf.

In deciding not to press charges, current United States Attorney June H. Kim cited “the particular difficulty of proving criminal intent in corruption schemes where there is no evidence of personal gain.” Mr. De Blasio received a warning letter about those actions from the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board.

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