The FBI raided the Manhattan offices of a New York City police union Tuesday, and hours later, the union’s outspoken leader resigned.
Bearing a warrant, agents searched the headquarters of the fifth-biggest police union in the country, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, or SBA, which represents 13,000 active and retired New York City police sergeants.
Simultaneously, FBI agents searched a home in the Long Island suburb of Port Washington, an FBI spokesperson said. It belongs to Ed Mullins, who has led the union since 2002, sources said.
In a letter to SBA members, which was obtained by NBC News, the union’s executive board said that it asked Mullins to resign and that he agreed.
“The nature and scope of this criminal investigation has yet to be determined. However, it is clear that President Mullins is apparently the target of the federal investigation. We have no reason to believe that any other member of the SBA is involved or targeted in this matter,” the board said in the message.
The union pledged its full cooperation. It said that Mullins is entitled to the presumption of innocence but that the union’s work is too important for the investigation to be a distraction.
Neither Mullins nor the SBA’s lawyer, Andrew Quinn, could be reached for comment earlier Tuesday.
It was not immediately clear why the FBI targeted the SBA and Mullins’ home. The FBI spokesperson told the New York Daily News that the agency was “carrying out a law enforcement action in connection with an ongoing investigation.”
Members of the public corruption unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York were also involved in the raid, The New York Times reported.
Around 1 p.m., the pair of agents lugging large brown cardboard boxes were seen leaving the union’s headquarters and walking to the FBI’s base in lower Manhattan.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was aware of the FBI raid but shed no light on the surprise raid of the SBA.
The son of a dockworker, Mullins, who was raised in Greenwich Village, has frequently clashed with police leaders and de Blasio.
His acerbic Twitter posts have included calling a City Council member a “first class whore” and calling a former health commissioner a “b—-.” In response to the 2014 officer-involved shooting death of Michael Brown, a Black teenager, and the subsequent protests, he said, “Ferguson, Missouri was a lie and a nation of police have been under attack ever since.”
Mullins remains a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump.
The SBA’s bylaws require Mullins to continue working as a police sergeant; records show that he is not assigned to a specific post. And while he was paid $133,195 by the city last year, his full-time job was running the SBA, which pays him an additional salary.
The union paid Mullins $88,757 in 2019, according to the SBA’s most recent paperwork, which listed him as a trustee.