Investigators at the Manhattan district attorney’s office seized the phone of Department of Buildings Commissioner Eric Ulrich and questioned him in connection with an illegal gambling probe, according to reports from the New York Times and the Daily News.
The nature of the probe was not immediately apparent, and it wasn’t clear if Ulrich was a target, or whether he was more peripheral to the investigation. A spokesperson for District Attorney Alvin Bragg didn’t return a request for comment immediately.
Ulrich, a former member of the City Council, was appointed to lead the buildings department by Mayor Eric Adams this spring. The Times reported, citing sources, that the DA’s investigation had to do with conduct that occurred before Ulrich's time in the Adams administration.
Speaking at an unrelated press conference Adams said he respects the "firewall" between City Hall and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office and wasn’t rushing to conclusions about his appointee.
"Number one, Eric is still the commissioner there," he said. “I really think that this is really so early for us to be saying 'Should we, shouldn't we. Should we, should we, shouldn't we' — DA's office is going to do their review. And that review will determine how to move forward."
Over the years, Ulrich has made headlines in connection to gambling. In 2016, the Daily News reported he reported on an annual disclosure form submitted to the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board that he’d won between $5,000 and $47,999 in gambling spoils.
Ulrich reported earning that same amount through gambling each year since, according to disclosures released by the board through 2021, the most recent one available.
In 2018, Ulrich wrote a letter in support of a purported Bonanno crime family associate Robert Pisani during the man’s sentencing in a conspiracy case involving an illegal gambling ring, the Daily News reported.
This story has been updated with additional information.