NEW YORK — Former Sergeants Benevolent Association head Ed Mullins was charged with one count of wire fraud in federal court after surrendering to the FBI early on Wednesday. Mullins was released on $250,000 bail after pleading not guilty to the charge.
Prosecutors for the Southern District of New York accused Mullins of an alleged scheme to overcharge the union for expenses, including costly dinners at high-end restaraunts, groceries, and gift cards for relatives.
Overall, prosecutors allege that Mullins was reimbursed for more than $1 million in expenses from 2017 to 2021, and said the majority of the money from those reimbursements was "fradulently obtained."
"As alleged, 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," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a release. "Mullins submitted hundreds of phony expense reports to further his scheme, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the SBA."
Mullins resigned as head of the SBA in October 2021 and retired from the NYPD one month later, following an ongoing federal investigation in which his Long Island home and Manhattan office were searched. Before retiring, Mullins was forced to surrender his gun and badge.
"Ed Mullins allegedly violated the ethics and rules of this department, the trust of 13,000 Sergeants, active and retired whom he represented, and the laws of the United States," new NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said in a release.
The indictment unsealed Wednesday includes allegations that Mullins would record the inflated costs in handwritten personal records at home. He maintained two sets of credit card records in his home office, one adorned with a sticky note labeling it "Clean Copy" and a second version labeled "Work Copy" or "Work Sheet," according to prosecutors. The work document featured the false figures Mullins would submit to the SBA, according to court filings.
According to the indictment, in November 2019, Mullins filed an expense report for a "high-end restaurant in Greenwich Village" for more than $3,000 in expenses that prosecutors say had nothing to do with SBA business. At the same restaurant, the complaint alleges Mullins purchased two $300 gift cards and filed for reimbursment. The indictment then quotes texts Mullins sent to a restaraunt employee explicitly stating his relative was coming in for dinner and using "a gift card that I grabbed two weeks ago."
"As public servants, members of the SBA pay dues to a union that’s supposed to represent their best interests. As SBA president, Mullins allegedly went above and beyond to best serve his own interests," FBI New York Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll said in a release. "Our NYPD sergeants expect and deserve more from their union leadership than they received."
The SBA represents about 13,000 active and retired NYPD sergeants, and controls a $264 million retirement fund. The former union boss' attorney, Marc Mukasey, said in court that Mullins agreed to not have any contact related to the wire fraud charge with members of the union or its leadership.
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 Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
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.
Though 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.