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Former Buildings Commissioner Ulrich, Brooklyn Developer Indicted On Bribery Charges

New York City Mayor Eric Adams' former top building official was indicted Wednesday by Manhattan prosecutors who allege he used his official positions to solicit $150K worth of bribes and perks from associates, including a real estate developer.

Eric Ulrich, the former Department of Buildings commissioner, senior mayoral adviser and New York City Council member, photographed in 2013.

Eric Ulrich was the subject of five indictments unsealed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who announced the charges in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Ulrich was a city council member representing parts of Queens before joining Adams' administration in January 2022 as a senior adviser. He was appointed Department of Buildings commissioner in May 2022 and resigned in November after his phone was reportedly seized amid the execution of a search warrant.

Bragg said Ulrich took actions that undermined the public trust in each of his elected and appointed positions, ultimately accepting more than $150K worth of bribes in the form of cash, season tickets to New York Mets games and a discounted beachfront apartment.

"The position of DOB Commissioner is one that we can literally see the work all around us," Bragg said at the press conference. "It’s palpable, it’s tactile. It is one that affects real and tangible public safety interests of all New Yorkers."

Ulrich surrendered to authorities early Wednesday morning and was arraigned shortly after the press conference. His attorney, Samuel Braverman, called the grand jury process one-sided in a statement to Bisnow, adding that Ulrich's "integrity maintains intact" and he maintains his innocence.

"When thousands of phone calls and documents are cherry picked and cut into small bits, and then viewed with eyes biased towards guilt, anyone can be made to look bad," Braverman said in the statement. "Mr. Ulrich unequivocally denies these charges and looks forward to his day in court where only the evidence matters, not charging documents or press releases."

The discounted apartment, according to the indictment, was provided by developer Mark Caller, who runs Brooklyn-based real estate firm The Marcal Group. Shortly after Ulrich joined the Adams administration, he told Caller he was looking for a new place to live, to which Caller replied he would "figure something out" for the public servant, according to a statement of facts Bragg's office released.

Caller allegedly offered Ulrich a discount on a luxury apartment in Rockaway Park in the form of three months of free rent and an offer to buy the unit below market rates. In WhatsApp messages published in the statement of facts, Caller asked Ulrich to put a neighboring low-income apartment building "out of business." Less than three weeks later, an inspection was conducted and three violations were issued, according to the statement.

Ulrich also allegedly attempted to influence the Department of City Planning on a rezoning attempt by Marcal to advance its development at 155 Beach 115th St. in Rockaway Park while working as a senior adviser to Adams. While at DOB, he connected Caller to other officials in the department to "expedite requests for Marcal Group projects," according to the statement of facts.

Marcal has developed "millions of square feet" of residential and commercial projects, according to its website, with properties in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey.

Caller raised nearly $50K for Adams' mayoral campaign by hosting a fundraiser on the rooftop of one of his buildings, The City reported. Adams wasn't implicated in any wrongdoing.

Caller was charged with one count of second-degree bribery. In a statement, his attorneys, Benjamin Brafman and Jacob Kaplan, denied that Ulrich had done anything wrong.

"In our judgment Mr. Caller did not commit any crime whatsoever," the statement says. "The indictment alleges Mr. Caller with the bribery of former Buildings Commissioner Eric Ulrich, but it is predicated on a flawed theory, as Mr. Ulrich obtained an apartment in one of Mr. Callers’ buildings at market rate, Mr. Caller is not named in any of the other four indictments filed today against Mr. Ulrich, nor does the District Attorney allege that Mr. Caller even knew any of these men."

Five other men with connections to Ulrich were charged as part of the investigation, conducted with the city's Department of Investigation: Joseph and Anthony Livreri, Michael Mazzio, Paul Grego and Victor Truta. Ulrich allegedly solicited bribes from all five, which he used to gamble at illegal public and private casinos. The Liveris own two pizza shops in Queens and were also Adams donors. 

The other defendants in the indictments all had business before the city that Ulrich attempted to influence, according to the statement of facts. Mazzio allegedly purchased Mets season tickets, a $10K value, and gifted them to Ulrich. Other gifts Ulrich allegedly received were artwork, a bespoke suit and cash.

"When you enter public service, you are bound to abide by laws, ethics and regulations that are essential to the public trust," Bragg said. "Flying in the face of all of that, Eric Ulrich, we allege, monetized each and every role he held in elected government."

UPDATE, SEPT. 13, 5:45 P.M. ET: This story has been updated to include a statement from Ulrich's attorney, Samuel Braverman.