Eric Adams admits to owning the Brooklyn properties he claimed to have sold

As a candidate last year, Mayor Eric Adams denied he owned a co-op in Brooklyn with a close friend – and claimed he gifted her his shares more than a decade ago.

He did not disclose the existence of the one-bedroom apartment on Prospect Place, or his 50 percent interest in it, on financial disclosure forms filed as Brooklyn Borough President from at least 2016 through 2020.

But last fall, the day before the general election, Adams changed his story completely – changing his disclosure forms for all those years to admit he continued to own half the shares in the co-op, which he shared with a “close friend”, Sylvia Cowan, owned shows a review of THE CITY’s records. He did not publicly announce the change at the time.

The change in Adams’ narrative surfaced Wednesday when the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board released 2021 financial disclosure forms for elected city officials.

Adams’ altered forms contradict the story he told THE CITY in early June last year, days before the June 22 Democratic primary in which he would eventually win by fewer than 7,200 votes.

On Wednesday, Adams declined to directly respond to several questions from the press about his ownership of the co-op. But his spokesman, Fabien Levy, echoed earlier statements by Adams that ownership had been “transferred” to Cowan years ago.

However, Levy admitted ownership hasn’t “fully transferred” yet, and THE CITY confirmed Adams still owns a 50% interest in the apartment.

Adams is still a co-owner of a co-op in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

Levy claimed the failure to file the proper documentation was due to the actions of Adams’ previous accountant, adding: “When he got a new accountant, the mayor found that in the past all the required paperwork had not been completed and that a new deed had not been filed by the other property owner.”

Levy claimed the financial disclosure forms were changed after Adams “proactively and personally called COIB before taking office and asked what changes needed to be made to previous filings.” And he stated that Adams has not received any rental income from the property since 2007, when Adams said the transfer was initiated.

walking history

On June 15, 2021, THE CITY reported evidence that Adams remained involved with the unit. At the time, he insisted that he had already donated his shares to Cowan in 2007, submitting a letter dated February 9, 2007 to that effect. Cowan did not sign the letter, although Adams’ signature is present.

The letter, which Eric Adams says shows that he gave up his shares in a Brooklyn co-op – for free – in 2007.

THE CITY found records showing his continued ownership and found that he had never filed a gift tax form with the IRS, as would be required for such a transaction. In response, Adams accused Cowan of failing to submit paperwork which he said set the record straight.

His story didn’t change until Nov. 1, the day before the general election, when he quietly filed amendments to his Brooklyn Borough District President disclosure forms dating back at least to 2016, according to COIB.

The original disclosure forms that Adams filed for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 are no longer available on the Conflict of Interest Board website but have been obtained by THE CITY. In none of these years is there any reference to the Prospect Place cooperative on the original forms.

In the amended forms, his unit ownership suddenly appears for each of those years. It also appears on its 2021 form released on Wednesday.

COIB said the amended forms were posted online “a few days” after they were submitted – suggesting they were not released until after the general election.

The multi-year amended disclosures raise questions about the veracity of its original filings.

When THE CITY inquired about the co-op’s ownership, Cowan asked — and received — the co-op’s board of directors for approval to transfer Adam’s share of the property to them in May 2021. However, according to a source familiar with the operations of the co-op, it never submitted documentation to complete the transfer.

Adams, who served in the NYPD for over 20 years and achieved the rank of captain, also owns a 4-unit townhouse in Bedford-Stuyvesant and co-owns a co-op in Fort Lee, NJ with his partner Tracey Collins.

Cowan bought an apartment in the same building in Fort Lee, THE CITY reported last year.

control error

The financial statements required by the city government aren’t the only papers Adams has had to change in recent years.

Last year, Adams changed his 2017-2019 federal tax returns to the IRS after PoliticoNY and THE CITY wrote about his failure to report rental income from the townhouse he owns in Bedford-Stuyvesant — even though he reported that income in the city’s disclosures would have.

His campaign initially said the revenue wasn’t reported because it was offset by expenses, but later said he would change the filing.

When those changes were publicly announced a few months later, THE CITY identified more flaws in those changed tax forms: Adams claimed the Lafayette Avenue townhouse was his primary address, but reported “zero” days he lived there to the IRS.

At the time, Adams’ mayoral campaign spokesman again promised that amended forms would be submitted.

To date, neither the 2021 campaign nor City Hall have confirmed whether the tax forms were changed a second time, and Adams has not released any of his tax forms since becoming mayor.

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