Former New York Buildings Commissioner Eric Ulrich Indicted in Bribery Probe

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Former New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner Eric Ulrich faces five separate indictments for allegedly using his public posts to get more than $150,000 in bribes, including season tickets to the New York Mets, artwork and custom-made suits, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Ulrich, 38, surrendered to authorities Wednesday morning and was charged alongside six other defendants, including developer Mark Caller of The Marcal Group, in what the DA called a “sweeping” bribery scheme. He was hit with multiple charges of bribery in the indictments.

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Samuel Braverman, Ulrich’s lawyer, said in a statement that Ulrich “unequivocally denies these charges” and that Ulrich’s “integrity remains intact.”

“The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office got what it wanted from the grand jury, a long list of charges against Mr. Ulrich,” Braverman said in a statement. “We all know that the grand jury is not a two-party process, we don’t get to object to unreliable evidence or cross-examine the witnesses.

“When thousands of phone calls and documents are cherry-picked and cut into small bits, and then viewed with eyes biased towards guilt, anyone can be made to look bad,” Braverman added.

The DA alleged that from the time he served as a member of the New York City Council in the 2010s, Ulrich “used his authority and access to senior city officials to benefit his co-conspirators and himself,” according to a statement from the DA’s office.

Ulrich allegedly used some of the bribes to gamble at casinos, including an illegal private club in Ozone Park, Queens, the DA said.

While acting as a senior adviser to Mayor Eric Adams and before his appointment as DOB commissioner, Ulrich allegedly coordinated dual inspections by the DOB and the Fire Department of New York City to close down a “multiple-dwelling [building] for low-income residents supported by the city” in Rockaway Beach, Queens, at the behest of Caller, CEO of The Marcal Group.

In exchange, Caller allegedly gave Ulrich a $2,000-per-month discount on a beachfront apartment nearby with an option to buy it for $55,000 below its list price, according to the DA.

The DA started to look into Ulrich in November 2021 and said Ulrich engaged “in conduct antithetical to his oath of office” on “an almost daily basis.”

Ulrich served as a City Council member in southeast Queens and was tapped by Adams to run the DOB in May 2022. He resigned just months later in November 2022 after he was served a search warrant at his Queens home and had his cellphone seized. 

“We always expect all our employees to adhere to the strictest ethical guidelines,” a spokesperson for Adams said in a statement. “While we don’t have any details about the indictment other than what has been made public so far, as we have previously stated, we will allow this investigation to run its course and will continue to assist the DA in any way needed. And, while we do not discuss private conversations, to avoid speculation, the mayor has not received any requests from the Manhattan DA surrounding this matter and has never spoken to Mr. Ulrich about this investigation.”

Aside from Ulrich and Caller, those indicted Wednesday included pizzeria owners Joseph and Anthony Livrei (who the DA alleges have mafia ties); Brooklyn tow company owner Michael Mazzio; DOB worker Paul Grego; and former corrections officer Victor Truta.

A representative for The Marcal Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Update: This story has been updated to include a statement from Mayor Eric Adams’ office and Ulrich’s lawyer.

Nicholas Rizzi can be reached at nrizzi@commercialobserver.com.