The FBI on Tuesday raided the Manhattan offices of a New York City police union, and hours later, the union’s outspoken leader resigned.
Armed with a warrant, agents conducted a search in the headquarters of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, which represents 13,000 active and retired New York City Police Department sergeants and is the fifth-biggest police union in the country.
Simultaneously, FBI agents searched a home in the Long Island suburb of Port Washington, New York, an FBI spokesperson said. It belongs to Ed Mullins, who has led the union since 2002, sources told NBC News.
In a letter to SBA members, which was obtained by NBC News, the union’s executive board said it asked Mullins to resign and 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 SBA board said in the message.
The union pledged its full cooperation in any investigation. It said Mullins is entitled to the presumption of innocence but the union’s work is too important for it 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, but the spokesperson told The New York Daily News the agency was “carrying out a law enforcement action in connection with an ongoing investigation.”
Members of the public corruption unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York were also involved in the raid, according to The New York Times.
Around 1 p.m., the pair of agents hefting large brown cardboard boxes were seen leaving the union’s headquarters and walking to the FBI’s base in lower Manhattan.
New York City 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 both the NYPD leadership and de Blasio.
The union leader’s acerbic Twitter posts have included calling a city councilman a “first class whore,” calling a former health commissioner a “b—-,” and 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 also remains a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump.
The SBA’s bylaws require Mullins to continue working as an NYPD sergeant, but records show he is not currently assigned a specific post. And while he was paid $133,195 by the city in 2020, his full-time job was running the SBA, which pays him an additional salary.
Mullins was paid $88,757 by the union in 2019, according to the SBA’s most recent paperwork, which listed him as a trustee.
Jonathan Dienst is a reporter for WNBC-TV in New York, leading its investigative reporting team and covering justice and law enforcement issues.
Tom Winter is a New York-based correspondent covering crime, courts, terrorism and financial fraud on the East Coast for the NBC News Investigative Unit.
Corky Siemaszko is a senior writer for NBC News Digital.