Mayor Eric Adams has appointed an executive working for the Resorts World New York City casino as a top public safety advisor to his administration, raising new ethics questions as the gambling company seeks to expand in Queens.
The aide, Timothy Pearson, is a longtime friend of Adams and a former colleague of his at the NYPD, who has spent a decade as the top official in charge of security at Resorts World, the slots operation attached to the Aqueduct Raceway in Queens.
Its parent company is hotly pursuing one of the three new gambling licenses authorized by state lawmakers to turn the facility into a full-fledged casino. Any application would have to be approved by a board to which Adams gets to appoint a voting member.
Additionally, Pearson gets his municipal paycheck from the city’s Economic Development Corporation.
“It’s totally inappropriate, it’s a direct conflict of interest,” said John Kaehny, the executive director of government watchdog group Reinvent Albany.
“What already happened was a conflict of interest. And now having Mr. Pearson at EDC, which will be involved with any city discussions about casinos, he will be in a position to influence the discussion of casinos,” Kaehny added.
“This has conflict of interest written all over it.”
Representatives from City Hall only acknowledged Pearson’s employment after he accompanied Adams’ chief of staff, Frank Carone, on a trip to Israel in July.
The spokesmen repeatedly refused to provide his salary or answer other questions about his employment other than to say his job title is “Senior Advisor for Public Safety and COVID Recovery” and provide his start date, May 31.
State officials believe that the three new casino licenses downstate are worth a combined $1.5 billion and will fetch billions more in additional revenues.
Pearson was previously an unpaid member of Adams’ transition team as a public safety advisor, where he floated a controversial proposal to nix the City Hall security detail.
Sources said that Pearson continued to be an influential but unpaid adviser after the transition wound down until he was hired despite his continued employment at the casino. City Hall confirmed those statements about Pearson’s “volunteer” role over those months in response to questions from The Post.
Then, late Wednesday, the New York Times reported that Pearson remains on the Resorts World payroll even after being hired at EDC, in an extraordinary arrangement that appears to run afoul of the city’s conflict of interest rules.
“Full-time public servants may not work for any company or not-for-profit organization that has ‘business dealings’ with any City agency, unless they receive written permission from their agency head and the Board,” according to guidance posted on the website of the city’s ethics watchdog, the Conflicts of Interest Board.
A spokesperson for COIB told The Post in July that Pearson had not sought a waiver nor had City Hall requested one on his behalf.
However, on Thursday, hours after The Times’ story was published, City Hall said that EDC was reaching out to the conflicts board for a waiver on Pearson’s behalf.
But COIB again confirmed Thursday that no waiver has been granted and declined to comment when asked if one had been requested.
All the while, Pearson continues to list himself as ‘presently’ employed as a ‘Vice President’ at ResortsWorld on the resume he posted to the social media site LinkedIn.
Pearson joins at least three other top advisors in helping craft City Hall’s response to the Big Apple’s 37 percent hike in violent crime this year, though shootings and murder rates have posted their declines since the pandemic struck.
That list includes Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Phil Banks, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, and gun czar Andre Mitchell — not to mention frequent involvement by the mayor himself.
Police Department insiders say the diffuse and confusing command structure has slowed and complicated efforts to respond to the surge in violence.
“We’re fighting competing demands without regard for the resources available,” said one veteran cop. “You don’t know where it comes from, or who’s making the decisions or if decisions are even being made.”
“It isn’t clear who’s in charge,” the person added. “The precincts feel it the worst.”
A plugged-in former city official added: “It seems like absolutely no one’s in charge.”
“Who’s really in charge, that’s the question,” the person said.
The complaints echo the stories of the widespread dysfunction in City Hall’s early Albany lobbying operation, which insiders said contributed to Adams losing billions in housing subsidies and losing some control over city schools.
Pearson also becomes the third public safety advisor to confront questions about ethics and potential conflicts of interest.
Banks was once Chief of Department at the NYPD and thought to be a potential future commissioner under then-Mayor Bill de Blasio until he was identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal corruption case examining allegations of favor trading and undue influence at the NYPD.
He suddenly retired amid the investigation and was never charged with wrongdoing.
But prosecutors obtained highly embarrassing photos of him making inexplicable cash contributions to his bank accounts and traveling with the two ring leaders of the scheme, Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg.
Mitchell, the unpaid gun czar, was busted by the Department of Investigation for serious financial irregularities at his city-funded nonprofit, which included using funds for personal use and putting family members on the payroll.
Both Pearson and Banks declined comment when asked by a Post reporter on Thursday. Meanwhile, Hizzoner skipped out of his scheduled press conference in Brooklyn before potentially facing a barrage of questions about the matter.
“Tim Pearson has had a long and distinguished career in both the public and private sectors, where he has spent decades keeping New Yorkers safe and creating security plans that have protected millions,” said City Hall press secretary Fabien Levy.
“New Yorkers are lucky to have such a knowledgeable and experienced individual agree to serve and bring his expertise to the greatest city in the world, especially after he did the job without being paid a single dollar for months.”
A spokesman for Resorts World said that Pearson “has absolutely no role as it relates to the potential bid process.”