Ed Mullins, the former boss of a powerful NYPD police union, pleaded guilty on Thursday to stealing members’ money through bogus reimbursements.
Mullins, 61, who was the fiery and controversial leader of the Sergeants Benevolent Association for two decades, was indicted in Manhattan last year on federal charges for filing hundreds of thousands of dollars in false or inflated expense reports.
Prosecutors said Mullins used those reimbursements – which came directly from union dues – on lavish dinners for himself and his friends, home appliances and even a relative’s college fund.
Mullins, who sported a gray beard and wore blue suit with red pinstripes, admitted he “submitted false and inflated expense reports to the SBA for reimbursement.” He acknowledged he was “not entitled to” the money.
The terms of his deal with the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office specify a sentence between 33 and 41 months for wire fraud. Judge John Koeltl will sentence Mullins on May 25.
The plea capped the downfall of Mullins, who was once one of the most prominent police union leaders in the country. He visited President Donald Trump in the White House and was a regular on Fox News.
In court filings, prosecutors detailed a brazen effort to collect fraudulent expenses from the union’s contingency fund, which was made up of dues paid by the SBA’s 13,000 members.
After spending $45 at a New Jersey wine bar, for example, Mullins received an $845 reimbursement from the union. On another occasion, he paid for family and friends to dine at a high-end Greenwich Village restaurant, then passed the $3,000 tab onto the union.
In total, Mullins received more than $1 million in reimbursements between 2017 and 2021, the majority of which was fraudulent, according to prosecutors.
Mullins, who spent four decades with the NYPD, retired in November, one month after federal agents raided his Long Island home and the SBA’s Lower Manhattan office. Investigators said they recovered two sets of credit card statements in his home office: one marked “Clean Copy,” the other “Work Copy.”
He was charged with wire fraud in February of last year, ending the career in which he was known for his brash – and frequently bigoted – criticism of those he deemed hostile to law enforcement.
His long list of controversies included sending an explicitly racist video to union membership, which referred to Black people as "monsters," and appearing on Fox News with a mug emblazoned with the logo for the QAnon far-right conspiracy theory.
Prior to his departure, Mullins faced a pair of department trials for disclosing personal information about former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daughter, and for referring to two city officials as a “bitch” and “first-class whore” on Twitter.
He was docked a total of $32,000 for the offensive tweets, but avoided termination, allowing him to retire with the bulk of his benefits. It wasn’t immediately clear how Mullins’ plea would affect his pension.
"Anytime you have somebody in that position caught with their hand in a cookie jar, it makes us all look bad, and makes us angry," said Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "What he's done is unforgivable and anything he did that was positive before that no one will remember."
Outside court, his lawyer, Thomas Kenniff, said his client has accepted responsibility for his wrongdoing.
"We’re optimistic and hopeful that he’ll be judged on the totality of his life and not just this incident," he said.
Inquiries to the SBA and the NYPD were not returned.
Isidoro Rodriguez contributed reporting.