Ex-NYPD union boss pleads not guilty to fraud charge
NEW YORK (AP) — When he wasn’t tweeting insults about New York City officials, federal prosecutors say a former police labor boss was bilking his union out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by turning in fraudulent expense reports, inflating costs and charging for meals and groceries that weren’t business related.
Ed Mullins, the former president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to wire fraud and was released on $250,000 bail. Mullins, in a business suit, rushed past reporters to a waiting vehicle after a court appearance in Manhattan. He had turned himself in to authorities earlier in the day.
Mullins, 60, resigned from the sergeant’s union in October after the FBI searched the organization’s Manhattan office and his Port Washington, Long Island home. He was placed on modified duty and forced to give up his gun and badge because of the raids, and retired from the NYPD a month later amid departmental discipline proceedings over incendiary tweets he sent from the union’s account.
Mullins’ lawyer, Marc Mukasey, said in court Wednesday that his client had agreed with prosecutors that he wouldn’t have any contact with union members or leaders related to the criminal charge. Outside court, both men declined to comment.
Messages seeking comment were left with the union and the NYPD.
The Sergeants Benevolent Association represents about 13,000 active and retired NYPD sergeants, drawing about $1,300 in dues a year from each active member and a one-time payment of $600 per retiree. The union also controls a $264 million retirement fund.
Mullins is accused of submitting false and inflated expense reports to the union after using his personal credit card to pay for meals at high-end restaurants and purchase luxury personal items, starting in 2017 and ending last October. Mullins is also accused of charging his personal supermarket bills to the union and counting costly meals with friends as business expenses.
Prosecutors said Mullins sought more than $1 million in reimbursements and that much of it was fraudulent. They said some personal expenses he likely paid with the extra reimbursements included clothing, jewelry, home appliances, and a relative’s college tuition.
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 NYPD,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.
Mullins, a police sergeant who was detached to full-time union work, was subject to department disciplinary proceedings last year for sending derogatory tweets about two city officials and for tweeting NYPD paperwork about the arrest of then-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daughter during protests over the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd.
Mullins was forced to give up 70 vacation days as punishment, amounting to almost $32,000 in pay. In a previous infraction, in 1987, he gave up 25 vacation days for an off-duty incident in which he punched one person and threw a bottle at another, police records show.
Mullins, a police officer since 1982, rose to sergeant, a rank above detective but below captain and lieutenant, in 1993 and was elected president of the sergeants union in 2002. Under his leadership, the union has fought for better pay — with contracts resulting in pay increases of 40% — and staked a prominent position in the anti-reform movement.
Although he was a full-time union chief, city law allowed Mullins to retain his sergeant’s position and collect salaries from both the union and the police department. In 2020, Mullins made more than $220,000 between the two, according to public records: $88,757 from the union and $133,195 from the NYPD.
Along with Mullins’ periodic appearances on cable networks like Fox News and Newsmax — including one in which he was pictured in front of a QAnon mug — perhaps his most powerful megaphone was the union’s Twitter account, which at one time had 45,000 followers.
In 2018, amid a rash of incidents in which police were doused with water, Mullins suggested it was time for then-Commissioner James O’Neill to “consider another profession” and tweeted that “O’KNEEL must go!” O’Neill retorted that Mullins was “a bit of a keyboard gangster” who seldom showed up to department functions.
Mullins came under fire and was subject to police department discipline for tweets in 2020 in which he called the city’s former Health Commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, a “b----” and U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres a “first-class whore.”
Mullins was upset over reports Barbot refused to give face masks to police in the early days of the pandemic and angry with Torres’ calls for an investigation into a potential police work slowdown in September 2020. Torres, who is gay, denounced Mullins’ tweet as homophobic.
Associated Press reporter Larry Neumeister contributed to this report.