Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

NYC building commissioner resigns after his phone is seized in a criminal gambling investigation

New York City’s building commissioner resigned Thursday after it was revealed that he was under investigation and had turned his cellphone over as part of a criminal gambling probe.

Eric Ulrich, 37, tendered his resignation to avoid “unnecessary distraction for the Adams administration,” said Fabien Levy, a rep for Mayor Eric Adams.

“We have accepted his resignation, appreciate him taking this step, and wish him well,” Levy said. “We have no further knowledge of any investigation and, out of respect for his and his family’s privacy, have nothing further to add.”

First Deputy Commissioner Kazimir Vilenchik will serve as acting commissioner and no services will be affected, Levy added.

The resignation comes after the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office seized Ulrich’s phone on Tuesday, and questioned him for more than two hours, sources previously told The Post.

Ulrich, a Republican served from 2009 until he was term limited out last year, hasn’t been charged with a crime. He had served as commissioner since he was appointed to that $243,171-a-year role by Adams in May.

He drew the attention of authorities who were conducting an organized crime investigation and had possibly racked up debts in backroom Ozone Park card games with reputed mob associates, sources previously told The Post.

As a city councilman, Ulrich once wrote a letter to a federal judge asking for leniency for “personal friend” and reputed Bonanno family associate Robert Pisani, who had pleaded guilty to a RICO conspiracy charge.

“Mr. Pisani is a kind person, devoted family man and a selfless individual,” Ulrich wrote on behalf of Pisani in a 2018 letter printed on his official City Council letterhead.

When Ulrich’s 3-year-old daughter was hospitalized with an injury from a “shopping cart accident,” Pisani sent the nurses bagels and food, the letter claimed.

“I found about his kind deed after the fact,” Ulrich wrote to Judge Dora Irizarry. “When I insisted on paying for the food, he told me to donate the money to charity. He really is a good guy.”

It’s not clear if that letter is part of the investigation.

Ulrich reported gambling winnings on his ethics disclosures as a city councilman totaling between $5,000 and $47,999 in 2016 and 2017. He reported the same range in winnings from the New York State Lottery for each of 2018, 2019 and 2020, disclosures show.

In 2021, Ulrich announced he was battling alcoholism and looking to get sober.

“The COVID pandemic has affected people in different ways,” Ulrich said at the time. “What used to be mainly a social activity, and a way to cope with stress, and a way to cope with stress, has now become far too frequent and self-destructive.”

Ulrich’s resignation comes just one day after the mayor said he had no plans to remove the him from his post in the city’s Department of Buildings.

“Eric is still the commissioner there,” Adams said. “Number 2, this is really so early for us to be saying we should, we should, we should… The DA’s office is going to do their review, that review will determine how we move forward.”

Adams said the administration “had no idea” about the probe until reporters began calling around on Monday asking about it.

Adams’ chief counsel Brendan McGuire said Ulrich passed a background check required of senior leaders before he was appointed.

Ulrich did not respond to requests for comment Thursday. Neither he nor the DA office have commented on the investigation.



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