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NYC Department Of Buildings Head Resigns Amid Gambling Investigation

New York City Hall

The commissioner of the New York City Department of Buildings has resigned after reportedly having his phone seized during an investigation into possible ties to illegal gambling and organized crime.

Former Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich resigned as the head of the DOB Thursday, according to a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams, who appointed Ulrich to the post in May.

Ulrich is under investigation by the office of New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, which confiscated his cellphone as part of the probe, The New York Times reported this week. The probe is focused at least in part on Ozone Park pizzeria Aldo’s, and looks at gambling and organized crime, the Times reported Thursday.

The commissioner said he wanted to avoid “unnecessary distraction for the Adams administration,” according to a statement from Adams' spokesperson.

Ulrich previously served as a three-term council member for New York City’s 32nd District, covering Queens neighborhoods including his home neighborhood of Rockaway Park. He was appointed a special adviser to the mayor earlier this year before taking over the position at the DOB, which oversees construction permitting, zoning and building inspections. 

Investigators are examining whether Ulrich used his influence in either city position, although the Times reported that Ulrich has not yet been accused of any wrongdoing.

When Ulrich was serving on the city council in 2018, court records show a letter written by Ulrich on official stationery supporting a constituent, Robert Pisani, a member of the Bonanno crime family, who was serving a 30-month federal sentence for collection of an illegal gambling deb, the Times reported. It is unclear if this letter is part of the investigation.

Ulrich also has some personal gambling history, according to previous reporting by the New York Daily News. In 2016, he told the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board that he had won between $5K and $47,999 gambling.

Ulrich has spent at least $6,500 at Aldo’s according to campaign finance records seen by the Times, with $5K spent during his unsuccessful 2019 run for Public Advocate as a Republican candidate. The pizzeria was linked to a Gambino crime family captain under its previous ownership in a racketeering and gambling case brought two decades ago by the Queens district attorney.