Former DOB Commissioner & His Associates Indicted For Bribery by Manhattan D.A.

Eric Ulrich, 38, has been hit with bribery and conspiracy charges for allegedly accepting $150,000 total “in less than two years” from a variety of associates. They’ve been indicted right alongside him. Some of the more colorful transactions include Mets season tickets, gambling money, and a painting by Salvador Dali’s apprentice.

| 18 Sep 2023 | 04:23

Erich Ulrich, 38, has been indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for allegedly accepting $150,000 in bribes from a total of six men. His formal charges include “various counts of Conspiracy, Bribe Receiving, and Offering a False Instrument for Filing.”

Ulrich is well-known for having held public office, most prominently under the tenure of New York Mayor Eric Adams. These jobs have included being a New York City Council Member, a Senior Advisor to the Mayor of New York City, and finally the NYC Department of Buildings Commissioner. He reportedly committed bribes throughout his time in each of those roles, in a crime spree that lasted less than two years.

The associates that he allegedly accepted bribes from, who were charged for the kickbacks alongside him, include: Joseph and Anthony Livreri, Michael Mazzio, Mark Caller, Paul Grego (also known as Dominick Grego or Domenick Russo), and Victor Truta.

According to prosecutors, Joseph Livreri was one of Ulrich’s aides when he was a city Council Member, and hoped to stay on as he transitioned to the mayor’s office in 2022. To do so, Ulrich reportedly falsified material on “employment documentation” that could imperil his job prospects–namely by omitting that he resided in Nassau County...and that he partially owned an illegal gambling club known as the 89th St. Cafe in Ozone Park, Queens.

The D.A.’s office claims that these arrangements were of no issue to Ulrich. Instead, they assert that in the period between January 5, 2021, and November 1, 2022, “Ulrich allegedly used his positions to benefit Joseph Livereri, his brother Anthony Livreri, and their associate Michael Mazzio.”

The alleged string-pulling is vast in its scope, and includes bizarre acts such as expediting health inspections after the brothers’ pizza joint closed (for health violations), not to mention attempting to resolve “licensing issues with the Department of Consumer and Workers Protection” for Mazzio’s towing company. Ulrich also supposedly helped secure a job for Mazzio’s daughter at the Department of Corrections, which came with a $20,000 raise.

What did the three men give Ulrich in exchange? Cash to blow at Joseph’s underground gambling joint and other casinos. A $10,000 “premium season ticket package” for the Mets was also secured.

Mark Caller, the CEO of a real estate company called the The Mercal Group, was also getting in on the action. Ulrich allegedly began granting him favors in December of 2021, according to the D.A.’s office. Caller specifically wanted to build a luxury building in Rockaway Park, so Ulrich attempted to strong-arm the NYC Department of City Planning to obtain the necessary zoning changes. He also cajoled the DOB (which he was leading as of May 2022) and the FDNY to inspect a low-income building next to the desired lot, in hopes of obtaining a vacate order.

In return, Ulrich unsurprisingly scored some prime real estate in the building, with a swanky two-bedroom apartment overlooking the beach reportedly becoming available to him at only $2,000 a month. That was a far lower rate than his neighbors, and he could’ve even bought the pad for $50,000 less than the going market rate.

Caller’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, disputed these figures in a statement to the press: “It is predicated on a flawed theory, as Mr. Ulrich obtained an apartment in one of Mr. Caller’s buildings at market rate.”

Grego, however, may have passed along the most baroque of the alleged bribes. A Department of Buildings filing representative, Grego would’ve practically become a DOB shadow ruler with the reported help of Ulrich between November of 2021 and November of 2022. The D.A.’s office alleges that he was given control over personnel decisions, more or less by telling Ulrich who to reassign. He also allegedly used Ulrich’s imprimatur to get the ball rolling on a liquor license for one of his clients, the owners of the Ridgewood restaurant Café Rum.

Prosecutors say that Grego traded on these favors by gifting Ulrich a bespoke suit and a painting by Salvador Dali’s apprentice Francisco Poblet.

Victor Truta’s alleged crimes are relatively unadorned. The D.A.’s offices claim that Truta, a former NYC Correction Officer, paid off Ulrich in order to approach the NYC Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner about hiring his family members. He seems to have paid in cash, not paintings or Mets tickets.

“Government officials must abide by the law and uphold their duty to the People of New York. Particularly when a public servant runs an agency that affects the lives of millions–from residents of apartments to the workers that build them–we must hold them to the highest standard,” D.A. Alvin Bragg said of the long-awaited indictments, adding that Ulrich was attempting to “line his pockets.”