By Nayaba Arinde
It could have been a movie.
But it wasn’t.
Federal agents suddenly surrounded Mayor Eric Adams on a City street at night.
The news that one of his top fundraisers was questioned by the FBI after they raided her Crown Heights home on November 2nd, 2023, made folks pause. But New Yorkers were shaken further with the revelation on Friday, 10th November 2023, that the mayor himself was stopped by FBI agents after an event at New York University on Monday, 6th. His security was told to stand down as they took the mayor to his SUV and demanded that he hand over his electronic devices – 2 phones and iPad.
“That was a gangster move,” an NYPD-affiliate, wanting to remain anonymous, told Our Time Press. “Usually, if they are investigating a white-collar crime, they just call and give a list of electronic devices they need. It was meant to embarrass him. What they did was dangerous and could have almost created a feds versus Mayor’s detail situation.
Days earlier, the F.B.I. raided the Lincoln Place, Crown Heights brownstone of Adams’ chief fund-raiser, Brianna Suggs, 25. It is reported that they took computers, cell phones, and a manila folder with the mayor’s name on it.
Starting as an intern at Brooklyn Borough Hall, reportedly the political “goddaughter” of Adam’s top advisor, Ingrid Lewis-Martin, brought in $18 million for Adams’ mayoral campaign.
Public Advocate Jumanne Wiliam’s spokesperson told Our Time Press, “The ongoing developments and circumstances surrounding the FBI investigation are very troubling. As this investigation continues, New Yorkers deserve consistent transparency and clarity about the situation.”
“It’s not good, but had the Mayor jumped up and started defending himself in the media, it would have been worse because you look guilty,” former governor David Paterson told Our Time Press.
Mayor Eric Leroy Adams’ journey was initially the story of the Brownsville-man-done good, with his often-self-proclaimed achievements rising from the single-parent household in Queens to a 22-year career in the NYPD, retiring as a captain while fighting injustice with his 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement organization; to become a state senator repping Brooklyn, to Brooklyn Borough President; to the 110th mayor of New York City.
He came in with what he calls “swag,” “emotional intelligence,” a spotlight persona, and curated bluster. A darling of the oft-times fickle mainstream media.
Word on the street has him down as having hands-on leadership, almost sometimes a micro-managing – style.
So, when at the scheduled 9.45 am November 2nd, 2023, meeting in DC with White House officials and other mayors, he got the call about Ms. Suggs’ home being FBI-raided, and he left without beginning the task he was there for. Mayor Adams bounded back to Gotham.
The press asked, “Why?”
“To deal with a matter” was the only response. They asked him again what did he do upon his return, which necessitated such an immediate return? Again, no real adequate response.
Gov. Paterson, not unaccustomed to media-explored controversies himself, said, “When he went to Washington, he jumps on a plane and comes back he says because a 25-year-old girl is all upset – you look guilty! He should have stayed right there.”
On Sunday, Mayor Adams slammed “improperly leaked details” from the FBI.
The New York Times reported that the FBI search warrant for Brianna Suggs’ home revealed that the “federal investigation has centered in part around whether Adams’ campaign conspired with the Turkish government, including its consulate general in New York, to illegally funnel foreign money into its coffers.”
In a statement sent to Our Time Press, City Hall Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg said, “The mayor and our team are continuing to work with investigators and cooperate. We hope that investigators will continue to cooperate with us and reprimand any federal officer who has improperly leaked details about this investigation, as such conduct could prejudice the public and undermine the integrity of our law enforcement process.”
“The FBI’s investigation of the Mayor’s Campaign Finance during the 2021 election leaves me with the thought of Due Process,” said Attorney Casilda Roper-Simpson, Adjunct Professor at Long Island’s Molloy University, Criminal Justice Department. “Hoping for the best for the Mayor and New York City.”
Through this now national brouhaha, the feds want to know that in July 2021, did a campaigning Democratic mayoral candidate, then Brooklyn Borough President Adams, ask New York Fire Department then-Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro to okay a Certificate of Occupancy for the Turkish government’s new 35-story Manhattan consulate, even though reports say, concerns had been raised. The federal investigation is looking into whether or not this came about through any criminality and conspiracy via funds used for Adams’ mayoral bid.
The Feds want to see if straw donors were created to cover illegal donations.
The Mayor has been a frequent visitor to Turkey, with a long-time relationship with the Turkish consulate general.
He has remained adamant that all his dealings have been clean and above board.
“I have not been accused of wrongdoing, and I will continue to cooperate with investigators.”
He has engaged attorney Boyd Johnson. But there have been no charges and no indictments brought against either Ms. Suggs or Adams.
At an in-person press briefing on Tuesday, 14th November, Mayor Adams gave up no new news. “This is an ongoing review,” he told the gathered press. “And as a former member of law enforcement, [it] is always my belief, don’t interfere with an ongoing review and don’t try to do these reviews through the press.”
He added that he was not thinking about resigning either, “I’m not speculating on that.”
Meanwhile, Our Time Press reached out to the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C., and the FBI in Manhattan but did not get a response from either by press time.
Gov. Paterson said, “Other misinformed media outlets are accusing the mayor of trying to hide his interaction with the FBI; if these so-called reporters thought about it, they would realize that when you get questioned by a law enforcement agency, it is understood that they don’t want you to publicize the event. They might choose to leak or publicize the event, but anyone who chooses to jump in front of it would be putting themselves at greater risk.
“In this particular case, the investigators asked the mayor to sit with them in his car, as they did not wish for their interaction to be made public.”
“The recent developments regarding Mayor Adams are concerning but it’s important to keep the slow leaking, alleged investigative information in context,” retired NYPD Detective Marquez Claxton told Our Time Press. “First, the Mayor has publicly committed to full cooperation with the Federal investigation. Secondly, the media reported information allegedly related to conduct when the Mayor was the Brooklyn Borough President. Inferences aside, there is no direct, verified indication of impropriety on the part of the Mayor. I have always known Eric to operate with the highest level of integrity and always within the law, personally and professionally. Like the Mayor, I believe that public release of the facts about whatever is being investigated will ultimately fully absolve him. I only hope that the same vigor will be displayed in clearing his name and political reputation.”
Retired NYPD detective Graham Weatherspoon was a member of the advocacy group 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement alongside Adams.
“We had a level of trust in the organization, and there was no second-guessing,” he said. “These people around him seem to not be from the grassroots, but they are developers, rich people, and financial backers who have come into the game of politics. They’re the ones causing him real grief. It is difficult to present a demeanor of honesty and forthrightness when everyone around you is shady. It is obscene that you have to have millions of dollars to run for public office – and they want something in return – you’ve got to dance to someone else’s tune.
“He’s got to clean the house. They are not the mayor; he is. The feds are looking at everybody that’s around the money.
“I trust that whatever was done wrong, by whomever – they will take the weight for it.”
“The mayor is a public servant and a man who came from law enforcement. We are hoping that he has followed the law in all its forms,” said Londell McMillan, attorney and owner of The Source. “I have no reason to doubt it. He seems to have fully complied so far. I hope this investigation will vindicate the mayor and his administration.
I think this is a great time for the mayor to lay low, focus more on working for the people, and stay out of the public eye.”
Unlikely. This is a mayor who revels in the heat of the spotlight.