Ex-NYPD union president pleads not guilty to fraud charge
A former New York City police union president who’s clashed with city officials over his insulting tweets and combative behavior was ordered released on $250,000 bail Wednesday after pleading not guilty to a charge that he fraudulently took hundreds of thousands of dollars from his union by filing phony expense reports.
Ed Mullins resigned in October as head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association after the FBI searched the union’s Manhattan office and his Long Island home. He retired from the NYPD in November, a month after he was placed on modified duty and forced to give up his gun and badge because of the raids.
Messages seeking comment were left with the NYPD and the union. The FBI declined comment.
At a court appearance for Mullins, defense attorney Marc Mukasey said his client had agreed with prosecutors that he would not have any contact with members of the union or its leadership related to the wire fraud charge he faces.
The Sergeants Benevolent Association represents about 13,000 active and retired NYPD sergeants and controls a $264 million retirement fund.
In a release, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Edward Mullins, the former President of the SBA, abused his position of trust and authority to fund a lavish lifestyle that was paid for by the monthly dues of the thousands of hard-working Sergeants of the NYPD. Mullins submitted hundreds of phony expense reports to further his scheme, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the SBA."
A charging document said Mullins defrauded the union from 2017 to October 2021 by using his personal credit card to pay for meals at high-end restaurants and to purchase luxury personal items and then submitted false and inflated expense reports to the union seeking reimbursement. Authorities said much of the over $1 million in expenses Mullins sought reimbursement for was fraudulent claims.
Mullins, a police sergeant who was detached to full-time union work, was subject to department disciplinary proceedings for sending derogatory tweets about two city officials and for tweeting NYPD paperwork in 2020 about the arrest of then-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daughter during protests over the murder by police of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Mullins was forced to give up 70 vacation days as punishment, amounting to almost $32,000 in pay. In a previous infraction, in 1987, he gave up 25 vacation days for an off-duty incident in which he punched one person and threw a bottle at another, police records show.
Mullins, a police officer since 1982, rose to sergeant, a rank above detective but below captain and lieutenant, in 1993 and was elected president of the sergeants union in 2002.
Under Mullins’ leadership, the union has fought for better pay - with contracts resulting in pay increases of 40% - and staked a prominent position in the anti-reform movement.
Although he was a full-time union chief, city law allowed Mullins to retain his sergeant’s position and collect salaries from both the union and the police department. In 2020, Mullins made more than $220,000 between the two, according to public records: $88,757 from the union and $133,195 from the NYPD.
Along with Mullins’ periodic appearances on cable networks like Fox News and Newsmax - including one in which he was pictured in front of a QAnon mug - perhaps the union’s most powerful megaphone is its 45,000-follower Twitter account, which Mullins ran himself, often to fiery effect.
In 2018, amid a rash of incidents in which police officers were doused with water, Mullins suggested it was time for then-Commissioner James O’Neill and Chief of Department Terence Monahan to “consider another profession” and tweeted that “O’KNEEL must go!”
O’Neill retorted that Mullins was “a bit of a keyboard gangster” who seldom showed up to department functions.
Mullins came under fire and was subject to police department discipline for tweets in 2020 in which he called the city’s former Health Commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, a “b----” and U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres a “first-class whore.”
Mullins was upset over reports Barbot refused to give face masks to police in the early days of the pandemic and angry with Torres’ calls for an investigation into a potential police work slowdown in September 2020.
Torres, who is gay, denounced Mullins’ tweet as homophobic.