A retired police department inspector and confidant of Mayor Eric Adams quit his executive job at New York’s only casino, the company announced on Sunday, four days after the New York Times reported he was collecting salaries of both the casino and the Adams. administration.
The mayor hired retired inspector Timothy Pearson without fanfare earlier this year in an unusual arrangement that saw Mr Pearson both keep his job at the casino, Resorts World New York City , where he was vice-president in charge of security, and to collect his pension from the gendarmerie. Officials declined to say how much he earns from the position paid by the city.
The hiring of Mr Pearson as senior adviser for public safety and Covid recovery came as the casino, owned by a Malaysian gambling conglomerate, seeks to expand its operations in New York. Watchdogs said its position presented an apparent conflict of interest, as City Hall’s support for the effort could prove critical.
Brought in in May by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization controlled by the mayor, Mr. Pearson had been collecting salaries from the city and Resorts World in addition to his police pension for the past few months.
Good government defenders had also criticized Mr Pearson’s roles as public safety adviser to the mayor and casino security officer as a separate conflict of interest, as the city’s position allowed him to provide more police resources to Resorts World.
A spokesman for the mayor, Fabien Levy, had said he did not see Mr Pearson’s dual role as a conflict.
A statement released by Resorts World on Sunday said he had left the casino.
“Tim is a distinguished hero who served the city for many years as a leader of the NYPD Tim has used those same skills to keep our facilities and our community safe for over a decade,” the statement read. “We support his decision to make his expertise available to the city in its quest to make our streets safer, and we wish him well.”
Resorts World declined to say how much Mr Pearson earned in the management role.
Mr. Levy on Sunday defended the hiring of Mr. Pearson, saying New Yorkers were lucky “that he has now chosen to focus all of his efforts solely on the public safety of our city and the recovery efforts of Covid”.
Mr Levy added that the move was unrelated to recent reports that Mr Pearson was working two jobs.
Mr. Pearson declined to comment.
After reports of Mr Pearson being hired, Mr Adams said it was the right decision.
“Well, I want someone I’ve known for over 30 years who has the experience to deal with public safety,” he said on NY1. “It’s a great hire.”
He did not address the ethical concerns raised by Mr Pearson taking public and private pay at the same time, but said the city was acting within the law.
John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, a government ethics watchdog, described Mr Pearson’s exit from the casino job as a good development.
“It reduces the conflict of interest he had,” said Mr. Kaehny, who described the prearrangement as an “impossible situation” because, at City Hall, Mr. Pearson might know information that could harm other casino bidders.
Mr Pearson, 62, had also been able to continue to collect his $124,000 annual police pension because his government salary is paid through the Economic Development Corporation.
Civil servants working for traditional municipal agencies are not permitted by state law to concurrently collect a municipal pension.
Earlier this week, Economic Development Corporation chairman Andrew Kimball declined to answer questions about the arrangement under which his organization was paying Mr Pearson.
Mr. Levy said earlier this week that Mr. Pearson’s municipal job responsibilities did not overlap with casino policy and instead included working with law enforcement to help improve public safety, the centerpiece of the program. of the mayor of Mr. Adams.
Mr. Levy also said that Mr. Pearson would have recused himself in the event of any interaction between the casino and the development company.
In addition to advising Mr. Adams on public safety and Covid recovery, Mr. Pearson is tasked with coming up with and executing a plan to keep the city’s schools open and interacting with the business community, Mr. Levy.
His hiring came as casino companies struggled to position themselves to take advantage of recent changes to gambling law. In April, New York State approved three new large-scale casino licenses. Resorts World, which currently only offers electronic games, is considered a favorite to receive one of the licenses. Having one would allow the casino to also offer table games like poker.
The convoluted licensing scheme will require multiple levels of approval, including support from four of six members of a community advisory committee. The mayor has one vote on this council. But it is expected to wield an outsized influence.