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Michael Mazzio

Michael Mazzio found himself getting shut out of New York City’s lucrative, bloodsport tow truck industry—until he found a friendly ear in City Hall.


  • Outerborough tow truck kingpin


  • Indicted outerborough tow truck kingpin

Michael Mazzio, the owner of Mike’s Heavy Duty Towing, had a problem. In 2020, the de Blasio administration did not renew his City tow trucking license. Two years earlier, he was charged with allegedly illegally subcontracting his lucrative City tow truck contract to other companies in exchange for cash (he recently pleaded guilty to “attempted agreement in restraint of trade, a class A misdemeanor, and all other related charges were dropped). The City’s Department of Consumer Affairs found he was price-gouging the people his company towed, which ultimately led to the 2020 decision not to renew his license. Now, Mazzio’s company was possibly out big money in towing revenue, all while his own lawsuit against the City alleging unfair treatment dragged on. (Mazzio is being represented in that case by the firm Abrams Fensterman, where Frank Carone, Mayor Eric Adams’s former chief of staff, now works.) 

But after Adams was elected mayor, perhaps Mazzio thought his administration could be convinced, one way or another, to change the City’s tune and give him his towing license back. After all, Mazzio now had a friend on the inside—fellow Table of Success member, future buildings commissioner and senior adviser to the incoming mayor, outgoing Republican City Councilmember Eric Ulrich, who represented Mazzio’s Howard Beach neighborhood. 

Mazzio, along with Ulrich and other Brooklyn and Queens businessmen, had raised more than $140,000 for Adams’s campaign. A few months later, in late December 2021, Adams sat down across from him and Ulrich at Aldo’s Ozone Park. It’s unclear what exactly they discussed at that meal, but a few weeks earlier, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg had begun listening to Ulrich’s phone as part of a wiretap related to supposed gambling debts—and that wiretap later caught Mazzio buying Mets tickets for Ulrich in an alleged effort to get his towing company back in the driver’s seat, according to an eventual indictment from the Manhattan DA. Soon after, Ulrich would be named the City’s buildings commissioner. Even before Ulrich officially got that role, he arranged a meeting between Mazzio and a trusted Adams adviser. Mazzio was able to sit down with Ingrid Lewis-Martin, to discuss a contract to tow abandoned cars off of highways during snowstorms, and to try to convince City Hall not to renew the contract of a rival tow truck company (which the administration soon did), according to an indictment. 

When Bragg’s office indicted Ulrich for bribery in September 2023, Mazzio was brought down, too. According to prosecutors, Mazzio had allegedly showered Ulrich with cash bribes and those Mets season tickets (well, only a 20-game plan) in a suspected effort to get his license back (he also allegedly asked for help for his daughter to get a promotion at the Department of Correction). By May 2022, Adams reportedly tipped off Ulrich that law enforcement were up on a wiretap of his phone, according to sources close to the investigation who spoke to the Daily News, telling Ulrich he suspected he might be wiretapped and to “watch your back and watch your phones.” After that, Mazzio and Ulrich met in person, going so far as to place their phones on a nearby windowsill in an effort to avoid being recorded, according to the indictment.

By November 2022, Ulrich had resigned from the Adams administration, as it became clear law enforcement was looking into his gambling and ties to organized crime. Mazzio was arrested this September. He has pleaded not guilty to the bribery allegations, but recently pleaded guilty to one of the original charges of illegal subcontracting that cost him his license (the rest of the charges were dismissed). His lawsuit against the City over his revoked license remains ongoing.

An attorney for Mazzio declined to comment.

Last updated: 12/18/2023


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