NEW YORK — FBI agents stopped Mayor Eric Adams on the street earlier this week and seized multiple electronic devices from him as part of a federal investigation into allegations that the Turkish government funneled illegal foreign cash into his 2021 campaign’s coffers, an attorney for the mayor confirmed Friday.
Boyd Johnson, a defense attorney retained by Adams after the FBI raided his top campaign fundraiser’s home as part of the same probe last week, said the agents approached the mayor to confiscate his devices after an event Monday night.
“The mayor immediately complied with the FBI’s request and provided them with electronic devices,” Johnson said in a statement. “The mayor has not been accused of any wrongdoing and continues to cooperate with the investigation.”
An NYPD source familiar with the law enforcement action told the New York Daily News that the feds presented the mayor with a warrant and took at least two cellphones from him. The devices were returned to him days later, the source said.
The seizure of the mayor’s devices marks an escalation of the probe into his campaign and appears to be the first time it has touched him directly.
“As a former member of law enforcement, I expect all members of my staff to follow the law and fully cooperate with any sort of investigation — and I will continue to do exactly that,” Adams, a former NYPD captain, said in a written statement provided by his campaign. “I have nothing to hide.”
The event the mayor had been at before he was confronted by the agents was a gala held at New York University near Washington Square Park in Manhattan, Evan Thies, Adams’ 2021 campaign spokesman, said. According to Thies, neither the mayor nor anyone from his campaign has received letters from the feds informing them they are targets of the federal probe.
Johnson’s statement said that in the wake of last Thursday’s FBI raid at the home of Adams fundraising chief Brianna Suggs, “it was discovered that an individual had recently acted improperly,” though there was no further detail provided.
“In the spirit of transparency and cooperation, this behavior was immediately and proactively reported to investigators,” he added.
Johnson did not identify the individual or how that person’s actions relate to the seizure of the mayor’s cellphones.
According to the New York Times, which first reported the cellphone seizures, the investigation is scrutinizing whether Adams’ campaign conspired with the Turkish government and KSK Construction, a Brooklyn-based contractor, to pump illegal foreign cash into the campaign’s accounts.
Adams has not been formally accused of wrongdoing as part of the investigation.
Adams has a long history of traveling to Turkey, including accepting a trip there in 2015 bankrolled by the country’s government — a decision he raised eyebrows for during the 2021 campaign due to the government’s history of human rights abuses.
Two days after the seizure of his devices, Adams held his first press briefing with reporters since the feds raided Suggs’ home.
At that appearance, Adams did not mention the seizure of his devices by the FBI. When asked if he was concerned about legal exposure in the probe, he said he’d “be shocked if someone states that our campaign coordinated an illegal behavior.”
“I cannot tell you how much I start the day with telling my team: ‘We’ve got to follow the law, got to follow the law.’ Almost to the point that I’m annoying,” he said at the Wednesday briefing. “I just strongly believe you have to follow the law. And so … it would really shock me if someone that was hired by my campaign did something that was inappropriate. Not only would it shock me, it would hurt me.”
As reported by the Daily News, KSK Construction has ties to Turkey’s second largest political party, with multiple of its executives having donated to the U.S. wing of the group, according to records.