Adams cites 9/11 as he tries to wave off criticism of ex-casino pal

Mayor Eric Adams tried to duck a new barrage of questions about ethics at City Hall Monday after hiring his close friend Timothy Pearson as a public safety adviser while allowing him to keep his job at a Queens gambling operation seeking approvals to expand its business — with Hizzoner claiming at one point that “We need to lift up our 9/11 heroes.”

Adams spoke just hours after Resorts World, which runs the slots at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, parted ways with Pearson following a string of stories that revealed his simultaneous work in city government and as the security chief at the facility.

“He’s a 9/11 hero,” Adams told reporters in The Bronx after he was pressed on allowing Pearson to maintain dual employment while he was in city service. “When the [World Trade Center] buildings collapsed, he was inside one of the buildings and led people to safety.”

“We need to lift up our 9/11 heroes,” the mayor added.

Mayor Eric Adams defended his close friend and new public safety adviser Timothy Pearson as a "9/11 hero" when questioned about the ethics of hiring him.
Mayor Eric Adams defended his close friend and new public safety adviser Timothy Pearson as a “9/11 hero” when questioned about the ethics of hiring him.
Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

Adams also claimed on Monday that City Hall has “nothing to do with the placement of casinos” — even though the mayor appoints one of the voting members to the panel that must approve any new casino license in the five boroughs.

The Malaysia-based Genting Group, the parent company of Resorts World, is fighting hard for one of those new licenses so it can add lucrative table games like craps and roulette to its racetrack operation, which is currently limited to slots and other computer games.

The New York Times first reported last week that Pearson was still employed full time by Resorts World even after taking an adviser position at the city’s Economic Development Corporation on matters of public safety and COVID-19 pandemic recovery.

Resorts World casino parted ways with Pearson as their security director after reports of his city jobs.
Resorts World casino parted ways with Pearson as their security director after reports revealed his city jobs.
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek, File

Good government watchdogs also flagged another apparent conflict of interest: The EDC, which officially pays Pearson’s salary, would likely be involved with any casino project in the Big Apple as the city’s economic development agency.

On Thursday, The Post published an expose that showed Pearson had been “volunteering” as an EDC adviser for months before officially joining the city payroll — while he was still being paid by Resorts World.

The Post also revealed that Adams’ decision to add yet another adviser on crime had further muddled an already murky chain of command around public safety matters — all as City Hall attempts to battle back against a 37% increase in crime.

The mayor attempted to answer all those criticisms on Monday, claiming that Pearson “would recuse himself” in any casino conversations — and implied the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board had approved the arrangement.

“We have something to city called the Conflict of Interest Board. That’s where we go to,” said Adams. “Everyone out there that is giving their opinions, that’s fine.”

“But in order for opinions not to get in the way of how to run a city, we created something called COIB. You are aware of that,” he added. “They make a determination, not people who are giving their opinions. We go by the rules. There is no conflict with Tim Pearson.”

“We followed all the rules and the EDC followed all the rules,” the mayor insisted.

COIB guidelines explicitly bar city employees from maintaining outside employment without the permission of their agency head and a waiver from the agency. Such waivers typically contain strict guidance on what employees can and cannot do.

Spokesmen for the agency have repeatedly told The Post that Pearson has not been granted any waiver.

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