Ex-FDNY chief accuses Mayor’s Office of helping big real estate cut inspection line: lawsuit

An ex-FDNY chief accused the Adams administration of helping big real estate developers cut to the front of the line of builders awaiting fire inspections as the FBI deepens its probe into the mayor’s potential kickback scheme involving Turkish officials.

Joseph Jardin, who led the Bureau of Fire Prevention from 2019 through 2022, said he witnessed a corrupt system in the role that involved overseeing inspections of fire alarm plans for new buildings and faced retaliation for speaking up, according to a lawsuit filed over the summer.

After the worst of the pandemic, City Hall introduced a number of measures to cut bureaucratic red tape in an effort to help small business owners — including a Deputy Mayor of Operations (DMO) list to help speed up fire alarm inspections for local businesses.

But, the lawsuit alleges, the DMO list instead was used to help out powerful and politically connected developers.

“Jardin and others learned that the DMO list — at the behest of the Real Estate Board of New York — was being used to fast-track inspections for ‘friends’ of City Hall,” the suit states. “These ‘friends’ were prominent and influential real estate developers.”

Ex-FDNY Chief Joseph Jardin said he witnessed a corrupt system that favored powerful, rich and politically connected developers in his role overseeing fire safety systems in new buildings across the city.
X / @JoeJardin

Jardin, who retired from the FDNY after he was demoted, and six other former department chiefs sued the city and Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh along with other city leaders, claiming that the fire boss forced them to retire after they protested “corrupt” policies including the DMO list.

Jardin is one of three FDNY officials interviewed by federal authorities in the ongoing probe into Eric Adams’ mayoral campaign fundraising, sources familiar with the investigation told The City.

He reportedly told the FBI that Adams, while still Brooklyn borough president, allegedly pressured the FDNY to immediately reinspect a newly constructed building that housed the Turkish consulate after it failed an earlier fire safety inspection, according to the outlet.

Mayor Adams’ iPad and two phones were seized by the FBI as they investigated a possible kickback scheme involving campaign donations and Turkish officials.
William Farrington

The feds are investigating whether Adams used his influence as borough president to push through the Turkish consulate building plans despite fire hazard concerns in return for campaign donations from Turkish officials.

Investigators have seized two of the mayor’s cellphones and an iPad as part of their probe.

The latest on the FBI probe into Mayor Eric Adams' campaign

On Nov. 2 the FBI raided the Brooklyn home of Brianna Suggs, New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ chief fundraiser, as part of an investigation into a potential kickback scheme involving Hizzoner’s 2021 campaign.

Adams downplayed the seriousness of the raid the next day, telling PIX11 that “where’s there’s smoke, there’s not always fire.”

Investigators were reportedly seeking evidence into whether money was funneled into Adams’ mayoral campaign by Brooklyn-based construction company KSK Construction Group as well as from officials in the Turkish government.

Mayor Eric Adams has downplayed the FBI probe into his campaign.
AP Photo/Richard Drew

The probe has looked into whether Adams used his influence as then-Brooklyn borough president to get the Turkish consulate built despite fire hazard concerns. According to campaign records reviewed by The Post, Adams’ campaign accepted a $6,000 donation from three donors who served on the board of a foundation backed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son Bilal.

Adams would later have two of his cellphones and an iPad seized by the feds in the investigation.

Adams’ campaign attorney Boyd Johnson said in a statement that Hizzoner is cooperating with federal investigators and a review found that an “individual had recently acted improperly.” That individual was identified as Adams administration staffer Rana Abbasova, who was later placed on leave.

Adams, on Tuesday, admitted to helping the Turkish Consulate get its approval to open and claimed doing so was nothing out of the ordinary.

“This is what we do every day,” Hizzoner told a packed room of reporters in City Hall. “When the constituency reaches out to us for assistance to another agency … you reach out to an agency and ask them to look into a matter.”