New York City Official Resigns After Phone Seized in Gambling Probe

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Posted on: November 5, 2022, 03:37h. 

Last updated on: November 5, 2022, 03:37h.

New York City is looking for a new Buildings Commissioner after the former head of the department stepped down Thursday, reportedly due to an investigation into an illegal gambling probe.

Ulrich
Eric Ulrich resigned this week as New York City’s Buildings Commissioner after it was reported that investigators from the Manhattan district attorney’s office seized his phone in connection to an illegal gambling investigation. (Image: NYC.gov)

The New York Times reported Tuesday that investigators from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office took Eric Ulrich’s phone as part of a search warrant. Ulrich, a former New York City councilman representing Queens, became the Buildings Commissioner in May after serving as an adviser to Mayor Eric Adams.

The Department of Buildings serves as the city’s regulatory body for codes and zoning.

A spokesperson for Adams confirmed the resignation Thursday in a statement.

This morning, Eric Ulrich tendered his resignation as DOB commissioner in an effort to, in his words, avoid ‘unnecessary distraction for the Adams administration,’” Press Secretary Fabien Levy said. “We have accepted his resignation, appreciate him taking this step, and wish him well. We have no further knowledge of any investigation and, out of respect for his and his family’s privacy, have nothing further to add.”

Although a Republican, Ulrich supported Adams, a Democrat, in the mayoral election last year.

Kazimir Vilenchik, the first deputy commissioner, will lead the agency on an interim basis, said Levy, who added that the department remains fully operational and no services will be affected by Ulrich’s departure.

Once Hit Jackpot at Resorts World

Ulrich has had previous connections with gambling. The Times reported that while he was a sitting councilman in 2018, Ulrich wrote a letter on his office’s letterhead for an organized crime associate facing sentencing after being convicted on gambling charges in federal court.

In 2016, the New York Daily News reported Ulrich declared thousands of dollars in winnings from Resorts World New York City in a filing with the city’s Conflict of Interest Board. That included a more than $7,500 jackpot from a video lottery machine at the Queens casino, which was part of his district.

Casinos Coming to NYC?

In a separate development, New York City may be in line to get as many as three casinos after state lawmakers passed a budget earlier this year allowing the state’s Gaming Commission to release a solicitation for licenses.

Last month, the commission announced the first three members of the Gaming Facility Location Board that will ultimately make the decision on whether to approve applicants. After three of the five members were appointed on Oct. 3, a 90-day window opened for the state to release the solicitation for the licenses.

In order for that board to consider an applicant for licensure, the applicant must first get two-thirds support from a local board that would include appointees by the governor and mayor as well as the borough president and locally elected officials.

It’s expected that other downstate communities will seek licenses as well, and many expect Resorts World New York City and MGM Resorts International’s Empire City Casino to be frontrunners for licenses. If approved, they would be able to switch from video lottery terminals to slot machines and offer live dealer table games.

The Gaming Commission has said that the earliest any new license would be awarded would be next year.



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