Former Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge Thursday, admitting to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the NYPD union he helmed for nearly two decades.
"Edward Mullins promised to look out for the thousands of hard-working NYPD Sergeants who are members of the SBA. Instead, as admitted today in federal court, he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from them to fund his lavish lifestyle," U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said in a statement.
The scheme Mullins pleaded guilty to crafting involved him filing false and inflated expense reports for meals and luxury personal items, and also claiming personal expenses like supermarket bills as SBA-related meals, prosecutors said.
Federal investigators said they believe he stole at least $600,000 from the union, which represents some 13,000 active and retired NYPD sergeants and is the fifth-largest police union in the country.
"There's not many among us who haven't strayed from the path in life," Mullins' attorney Thomas Kenniff said outside federal court in Manhattan Thursday. "At the same time, no one is beyond redemption. I think Mr. Mullins took a big step today towards righting his wrongs."
Kenniff said he hoped the judge would consider the full scope of Mullins' career, "the majority of which he's done great things" for the city, the NYPD, and his union members.
The maximum sentence for the wire fraud charge Mullins pleaded guilty to is 20 years, but Kenniff said he expects a lower sentence.
As part of his plea agreement, Mullins agreed to pay $600,000 to the federal government and another $600,000 to the union.
According to prosecutors, Mullins siphoned off funds from the union by paying for items with his personal credit card and then submitting hundreds of falsified expense reports for reimbursement to an SBA account funded by union dues.
Mullins resigned from the union in October 2021 after 18 years at the helm, hours after the FBI raided the union's headquarters in lower Manhattan and his Long Island home. He retired from the NYPD one month later.
He surrendered to the FBI in February 2022 and initially pleaded not guilty to a wire fraud charge.
The NYPD and the SBA did not return requests for comment.
Mullins was known to draw controversy during his time in union leadership, feuding with NYPD brass, mayors, and other elected officials.
He 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.