Mayor Adams insists ‘no conflict of interest’ in putting casino executive on NYC payroll

Arturo Holmes/New York Daily News/Arturo Holmes
·2 min read

Mayor Adams waved off concerns Monday over his decision to put a casino executive on the municipal government’s payroll — but refused to divulge whether the city’s ethics watchdog ever cleared the unusual arrangement.

Timothy Pearson, an ex-NYPD officer and a close friend to Adams, quietly landed a job at the city’s Economic Development Corp. in May, allowing him to collect a taxpayer-funded salary while also retaining his job as a security director at the Resorts World Casino in Queens.

But even though Pearson left his Resorts World gig a few days after The New York Times first reported his city job last week, Adams insisted at an unrelated press conference Monday afternoon that there was nothing fishy about the hire.

“We go by the rules. There is no conflict with Tim Pearson,” Adams told reporters in the Bronx.

Adams would not say, though, if the city Conflicts of Interest Board ever gave Pearson the green light to hold the EDC and casino jobs simultaneously. Instead, the mayor only said Pearson “followed all the rules” before taking on the EDC post.

After the press conference, a City Hall official said the EDC contacted the Conflicts of Interest Board on Pearson’s behalf before he accepted a job at the agency, which is controlled by the mayor and serves as the city’s economic development arm. But the official wouldn’t say if the board provided guidance on the matter.

“We don’t discuss private conversations, but, like I said, Tim is following all applicable laws and guidance,” the official said.

Conflicts Board Executive Director Carolyn Miller declined to say if the panel issued any guidance about Pearson’s appointment, noting that city law precludes her from disclosing any advice given to public servants.

After his Adams administration job came to light, government watchdog advocates suggested Pearson’s dual roles could’ve proven an ethical quagmire, as Resorts World is among a handful of gambling operators seeking a full-scale casino license from the state.

But Adams said such concerns are overblown, as neither Pearson’s EDC or Resorts World jobs involve casino licensing.

“He has nothing to do with siting casinos. He has nothing to do with any business dealings, and if there was, he would recuse himself,” he said. “This is not complicated.”