Adams Taps Ex-Cop Implicated in Bribery Scandal to Serve in City Hall

Philip Banks III pictured with Police Commissioner William Bratton during a news conference at a swearing-in ceremony for police-academy recruits at Queens College in New York in 2014. Photo: Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times/Redux

Mayor Eric Adams has appointed Philip Banks, a former NYPD chief who was implicated in a bribery scandal, as his deputy mayor for public safety. In his role, Banks would be in charge of “coordinating all agencies on public-safety matters,” according to City Hall, essentially overseeing the police department. His brother, David Banks, currently serves in the administration as the chancellor of schools.

The pick is bound to be controversial. In 2014, federal investigators found that Banks accepted gifts such as foreign trips and expensive meals from a pair of businessmen, Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg, who were subsequently tried and convicted of attempting to bribe police officials for perks such as fixing parking tickets and other favors. Investigators reportedly found that, between 2013 and 2014, Banks made a number of bank deposits that totaled up $300,000. Ultimately, Banks was named as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the probe and was not charged with a crime.

The announcement of Banks’s new role first broke Friday, not in an official City Hall press release, but in an op-ed written by Banks in the New York Daily News where he attempted to address questions about his past. Banks maintains that he never provided favors to Rechnitz and Reichberg in his official capacity and said that there was no unexplained income in his financial accounts, noting that the IRS took no actions there.

He also said that his reason for stepping down from his prior NYPD job as chief of the department in 2014 was not him trying to avoid a departmental trial related to the investigation, but because he didn’t feel like he could be “effective” in the role of first deputy commissioner, which he was set to be promoted to at the time.

“Despite the fact that I never broke the law, nor did I ever betray the public trust by abusing my authority as an NYPD official, I do also want to offer an apology to the people of New York. My interaction with Rechnitz and Reichberg was a mistake,” Banks wrote in the op-ed. “These two men were attempting to corrupt public officials — and I now regret the time I spent with them. I realize now that even the appearance of our friendship was damaging to my profession.”

He continued, “I hope that from here on, I can serve the people of New York excellently to prove my commitment to them.”

Relatedly, Adams is expected to tap his brother, retired NYPD officer Bernard Adams, as a deputy police commissioner, according to the New York Post.

Ex-Cop Implicated in Bribery Scandal to Serve in City Hall