Embattled New York City Mayor Eric Adams is facing a new scandal after it emerged that he used a City Hall lawyer to fight a private summons over a rat infestation at his former home in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn.
According to a new report from the New York Times, Adams enlisted deputy chief counsel in the mayor’s office, Rahul Agarwal, to handle the summons.
Adams’ record showed an unpaid summons penalty for $330 that he received in May – after it was found that the residence he owns along Lafayette Avenue is flooded with the rodents. In September, Agarwal filed a motion to vacate the summons, an official in the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings told the Times.
The mayor repeatedly failed to appear before the tribunal. Agarwal argued that Adams only found out about the summons in September because he now lives at the mayoral residence at Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side.
On Tuesday, Adams finally appeared at a virtual hearing and stressed that he has taken steps to read his former residence of the rats. The panel will take 30 days to render a verdict.
The mayor’s hatred of rodents is famous. During his time as Brooklyn Borough President, Adams endorsed and demonstrated an elaborate rat drowning device that required users to scoop dead rodents out of a vat.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has been outspoken in his hatred of rats and his wish to rid the Big Apple of the rodents
Deputy Chief Counsel Rahul Agarwal has been working in City Hall since January 2022 having previously worked at the United States Attorney’s Office in New Jersey
Adams’ home is seen on Lafayette Street in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. During his run for mayor, Adams said that lives in the basement and rents out the other two floors
When Adams failed to appear at a hearing in November, Agarwal argued that his absence was due to scheduling conflicts. Bizarrely during that appearance, Agarwal told a tribunal: ‘I am not actually appearing officially on his behalf.’
One of Adams’ spokespeople, Fabian Levy, did not address Adams’ use of a city hall lawyer in the case but said that it had been the mayor’s plan to represent himself in the hearing.
Levy told the New York Times: ‘[Adams] spent thousands of dollars to remediate an infestation at his residence in Brooklyn earlier this year, and was happy to appear before OATH today to state as much.’
The Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings is referred to as being an independent body tasked with investigating internal affairs in the New York City’s government.
The commissioner of the body, Asim Rehman, was personally appointed by Adams in March.
Adams shows the rat traps as he and announces the results of a pilot program aimed at curbing the rat population around Brooklyn in 2019
The Ekomille rat trap being displayed in 2019, Adams received huge criticism for his promotion of the supposedly inhumane device
Adams watching a demonstration of the Ekomille rat trap in action
In 2019, Adams annoyed animal rights activists — and upset the stomachs of some journalists — by demonstrating a trap that used a bucket filled with a vinegary, toxic soup to drown rats lured by the scent of food.
More recently, this past May, Adams announced the city’s latest effort: padlocked curbside trash bins intended to reduce the big piles of garbage bags that turn into a buffet for rodents.
‘You’re tired of the rodents, you’re tired of the smell, you’re tired of seeing food, waste and spillage,’ the mayor said.
Rats not only strike fear among the easily squeamish, they can also be a public health concern.
Last year, at least 13 people were hospitalized — one died — because of leptospirosis, a condition that attacks the kidneys and liver. Most human infections are associated with rats.
Bernard Adams, right, brother of New York mayor Eric Adams, mingles with supporters at his brother’s election night party, June 22, 2021, in New York
Adams and his girlfriend Tracey Collins attend the victory of Serena Williams of USA on Day 1 of the US Open 2022
The use of a government lawyer for a personal case is the latest in a line scandals plaguing Adams’ office.
Just two months ago, New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks promoted first-girlfriend Tracey Collins to a top job at the Department of Education several months after Adams hired Banks’ girlfriend as a deputy mayor.
The New York Post reported that Banks named Tracey Collins – longtime partner to Adams – to the role of ‘senior advisor to the deputy chancellor of school leadership.’ Her new role began in July and came with a massive 23% raise, bumping her public salary up to $221,597.
Last December, Adams made Sheena Wright – Banks’ girlfriend – a deputy mayor. She pulls in $251,982, based on what NYC deputy mayors made in fiscal year 2021.
While in January, Adams backed off plans for a $210,000-a-year, city-paid security job for his brother, Bernard, who will now volunteer instead as an advisor.
The retired New York Police Department sergeant now makes $1 a year, so he can officially be a city employee.
‘It was never about the money. My brother wants to be here with his brother, and when it comes down to personal security, you know, what is more important than to have someone you trust?’ the mayor told Spectrum News NY1 at the time. ‘I’m blessed to be able to have my brother.’
The mayor previously said he hated nothing more than rats. He is currently searching for someone to handle the city’s rat infestation
The mayor declared a war on city rats last week when he posted a job searching for what he called the Big Apples ‘Rat Czar,’ more formally known as Citywide Director of Rodent Mitigation.
‘There’s nothing I hate more than rats,’ he said last week while advertising the new job posting.
This comes after Jessica Tisch, Department of Sanitation’s commissioner, sensationally said last month: ‘The rats don’t run this city, we do.’
Adams appeared to be tackling his rat issues by putting rat traps around his home, photos obtained by New York Daily News showed.
Bags of trash also sat in front of his home outside of two filled garbage cans – which may not have helped his growing rat issue.
The mayor’s Brooklyn neighborhood is known to have rat issues and has been treating the problems with the help of the Department of Health.
While Adams is set to appear in court next week, he has ‘spent thousands of dollars to remediate [the] infestation at his residence in Brooklyn earlier this year,’ a spokesperson for the mayor told the Daily News.
But records showed that Adams failed to address the infestation.
Adams’ Brooklyn neighbors said rats are a massive issue on the block due to trash bags on the streets and construction.
‘Every night you’re dodging rats,’ Meredith Rogers said.
The mayor said he lives in the basement of the property with his son and rents out the upper levels.
At the time, Adams was the president of the borough of Brooklyn. He staged a press conference, beside his son, Jordan, 25, to insist that he did live in the property
Adams is seeking to pay a rat hunter more than $120,000 to help rid of the rodents in the city
Adam’s home serves as a partial rental property. The mayor previously failed to list his home as a rental and critics have accused him of actually living in New Jersey with his girlfriend Tracey Collins.
He previously debunked the claims last year – before he became mayor – when he took reporters into his Brooklyn home and showed them his scruffily-made bed and creaking floors.
The mayor said he lived in the basement and rents out the floors above to pay for his son Jordan’s college fees.
Adams is registered to vote on the first floor, yet a tenant who has lived there for years is listed under the same unit in multiple documents obtained by Politico last year.
His neighbors also previously said they didn’t know Adam’s lived on their block.
Adam’s rat issue extends outside of his home and into the streets of New York. Last week, he launched his job search for a rodent mitigation specialist.
The job, which pays between $120,000 to $170,000, is being listed for anyone with a background in urban planning, project management, or government work, but it seems the Democratic mayor wants someone with a flair for the position.
A city councilmember told CBS that the city has had a 71 percent increase in rat sightings since 2020.
Adams invited reporters to tour his basement home in Brooklyn last year, in a bid to prove that he actually lived in the city – rather than in New Jersey
Adams appears to be fighting rats in his own home and throughout the city. Pictured: a rat in the subway
Adams held a press conference in October where he said that ‘fighting rats’ was up there with crime and inequality as what he was focused on in his attempt to make New York a livable city.
The rat hunting job description explained the job as doing ‘the impossible’ in stopping the city’s rats.
It also suggests you have a: ‘swashbuckling attitude, crafty humor and general aura of badassery.’ A knowledge of PowerPoint is also necessary.
There’s a dark side to the position, however, as it says that you’ll need ‘stamina and stagecraft’ and that ‘the ideal candidate is highly motivated and somewhat bloodthirsty.’
The posting notes: ‘Despite their successful public engagement strategy and cheeky social media presence, rats are not our friends. Rodents spread disease, damage homes and wiring and even attempt to control the movements of kitchen staffers in an effort to take over human jobs.’
This is perhaps a reference to a time when rats are seen chowing down on everything from pizza, and bagels to the salad that went viral online.
The first rodent to take social media by storm for its larger-than-life appetite was Pizza Rat.
In September 2015, New Yorkers were amazed when footage emerged of it carrying an entire large slice of pizza down the steps of a subway station.
Despite the slice being bigger than it, the rat managed to drag it down several stairs before it was forced to admit defeat.
The video clip of its valiant effort went viral.