FBI seizes NYC mayor Eric Adams’ phones in corruption probe

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents have seized some of New York City Mayor Eric Adam’s electronic devices as part of a federal investigation into corruption allegations against him.

Earlier this week, FBI agents approached Mr Adams and took at least two of his cell phones and an iPad via a court-ordered warrant, according to a report from The New York Times. The electronic devices were later returned to the mayor, people familiar with the matter told the publication.

The recent seizure is seemingly related to the government’s investigation into whether or not Mr Adams’ campaign conspired with the Turkish government to receive illegal donations in 2021.

The investigation came to light in early November after FBI agents raided the home of his campaign’s chief fundraiser, 25-year-old Brianna Suggs.

Mr Adams has not been accused of any crimes and has denied any wrongdoing.

Friday’s revelation indicates federal prosecutors are escalating the investigation as they are now directly involving the New York City mayor, who is also a former police officer.

But Mr Adams has maintained his innocence, saying in a press conference on Wednesday that he is “shocked” and “hurt” by the accusations that his campaign staff committed illegal acts.

The mayor claimed he constantly reminded his staff to “follow the law.”

It is unclear at this time what the warrant obtained by the FBI sought to find on Mr Adams’ electronic devices.

The warrant used to raid Ms Suggs’ residence was intended to find evidence that campaign staff allegedly conspired with a Brooklyn-based developer, KSK Construction, the Turkish government or Turkish nationals to violate campaign finance laws.

Foreign nationals are prohibited from making campaign contributions, but investigators are trying to determine if foreign nationals used people in New York’s Turkish-American communities to act as straw contributors.

Straw contributors are those who use someone else’s money to make a political contribution using their own name.

The warrant for Ms Suggs’ residence also inquired about Mr Adams’ use of New York City’s matching program that allows the city to offer an eight-to-one match of the first $250 of a resident’s donation, according to NYT.

Amid the rapidly escalating investigation, Mr Adams said he hired a lawyer to represent him.

New York City mayor Eric Adams discusses a federal fundraising investigation surrounding his 2021 campaign at a press conference on Thursday 9 November (NYC Mayor’s Office)
New York City mayor Eric Adams discusses a federal fundraising investigation surrounding his 2021 campaign at a press conference on Thursday 9 November (NYC Mayor’s Office)

The mayor has longstanding ties with Turkish government officials and institutions as well as the Turkish-American community in New York.

During a flag-raising ceremony just six days before the FBI raids, Mr Adams declared “New York City is the Istanbul of America”.

“I’m probably the only mayor in the history of this city that has not only visited Turkey once, but I think I’m on my sixth or seventh visit to Turkey,” he boasted.

In August 2015 while serving as Brooklyn borough president Mr Adams reportedly first travelled to Turkey as a guest of the Turkish Consulate, who paid $4,999 towards his accommodation and flights, according to NY Daily News. Turkish Airlines, the Turkish Culture and Promotion Office in New York and Bahcesehir University paid a further $6,000 towards the trip, The City reported.

Shortly after, Mr Adams signed sister-city agreements with two districts of Istanbul, Beşiktaş and Üsküdar, and claimed, “Brooklyn is America’s Üsküdar.”

The Independent has reached out to Mr Adams’ office for comment.

Bevan Hurley contributed to this report.