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Timothy Pearson is Mayor Adams’s right-hand man—a hand that, at least once, curled into a fist.
- NYPD inspector
- Security director and vice president, Resorts World New York City
- Adams mayoral transition team member
- Senior adviser to the mayor for public safety and COVID-19 recovery, Economic Development Corporation
- Senior adviser to the mayor for public safety, Economic Development Corporation
Timothy Pearson and Eric Adams go way back. Pearson, who joined the NYPD in 1981, was Adams’s commanding officer while the mayor was still on the police force. Pearson was a 9/11 first responder who ushered people out of the South Tower before it collapsed and retired from the department in 2011 with a $124,000 annual pension.
After leaving the police department, Pearson took a job at New York City’s only casino, where according to his LinkedIn profile he was promoted from director of security and fire safety to a vice president position in June 2011. He hung onto the role even when he stepped into the Adams administration in May 2022, only resigning after reports emerged that he had retained the job and was likely pulling a $242,600 salary from the New York City Economic Development Corporation, a quasi-private, quasi-corporate “nonprofit” arm of City government controlled by City Hall.
What Timothy Pearson, who is apparently a flashy dresser and a cool guy to work with, does for the Adams administration elides easy description. His official title is “senior adviser to the mayor for public safety” and, previously, for “COVID recovery.” But his work spans far beyond these issues, encompassing security checks at migrant shelters and overseas travel with the mayor—without any clear, public schedule or accountability, despite drawing that hefty City paycheck. When reached for comment about Pearson, the EDC directed Hell Gate’s inquiries to City Hall—but acknowledged that Pearson does work for the EDC, despite the fact that most of his duties relate to the mayor’s office. City Hall did not respond to a request for comment about Pearson.
Pearson’s relationship with Adams has been confusing outside observers since the latter was Brooklyn Borough president. He joined Adams on a 2015 trip to Turkey in an advisory capacity that baffled the Conflict of Interest Board members who eventually approved Pearson’s inclusion on the trip. “Is Mr. Pearson a volunteer to the BP? A personal friend of Mr. Adams? Or is Mr. Adams paying Mr. Pearson out of his personal funds?” the board’s attorney asked in an email. “I ask because we have never heard of a volunteer security person before and we just want to be clear on the association.” Pearson ultimately joined the trip not as a volunteer or as security, but “to assist in identifying & addressing security matters regarding tourism & ways to promote & maintain safety,” according to Adams’s special counsel.
Adams and Deputy Mayor for Communications Fabian Levy have both expended plenty of oxygen defending Pearson, though. “Tim Pearson has had a long and distinguished career in both the public and private sectors, where he has spent decades keeping New Yorkers safe and creating security plans that have protected millions,” Deputy Mayor for Communications Fabian Levy told Politico in April 2023, referring to Pearson’s unpaid stint on Adams’s transition team. “New Yorkers are lucky to have such a knowledgeable and experienced 9/11 hero agree to serve and bring his expertise to the greatest city in the world, especially after he first did the job without being paid a single dollar for months.”
Adams also dismissed the questions around his decision to hire his friend. “If you know someone that’s qualified, like Tim Pearson—former inspector in the Police Department; a hero during 9/11, he was in the buildings when the buildings collapsed, instead of fleeing, he went back to help,” the mayor told NY1’s Pat Kiernan last August “Am I supposed to succumb to just those who are looking at hires? And they’re not saying he’s not qualified.”
As a member of the mayor’s transition team, Politico reported that Pearson helped hire former NYPD commissioner Keechant Sewell, pitched the NYPD on hiring “armed civilians” for Adams in lieu of a police detail (something City Hall has denied), and may have helped hook up Bernard Adams’s controversial deputy commissioner appointment. Months after the Bernard appointment, Pearson was widely seen as taking increasing control of the NYPD from Sewell with the help of Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks III before her resignation.
Pearson recently made headlines for a pair of incidents at New York City migrant shelters on October 17. First, according to the CITY, Pearson allegedly entered the Randall’s Island migrant shelter with more than 100 police officers, two drones, and a helicopter in order to conduct a “quality of life sweep” and look for four individuals accused of assaulting a police officer. When the shelter’s site manager asked Pearson for the warrant legally required to search the premises, witnesses said Pearson threatened the manager’s job and insisted on entering the shelter, where the cadre of cops ultimately failed to find the people they were looking for.
Later the same day, witnesses told the CITY that Pearson attempted to enter a migrant shelter in a Touro University building in Manhattan without identifying himself, this time in search of fire code violations. When guards refused to let him in, Pearson allegedly cursed at them and grabbed a female security guard by the neck before pushing her into a table. When other shelter workers attempted to intervene and help their coworker, the scuffle bloomed into a full-on brawl, and two guards were arrested as a result. The latter incident resulted in an ongoing inquiry by the City’s Department of Investigation, which declined a request for comment from Hell Gate on the investigation’s current status.
But Adams, true to form, has continued to defend the man who stood behind him in Times Square during his mayoral inauguration.
“Let’s be clear, this is what happens when you are dealing with a crisis of this magnitude,” Adams said at a press conference a week after the incident—adding that over his 30-plus year relationship with Pearson, he’d never witnessed “a violent action” by him.
- The most powerful New Yorker you’ve never heard of | Politico
- Under an Unusual Arrangement, Adams’s Confidant Gets City and Casino Salaries | The New York Times
- What We Know About Tim Pearson, the Eric Adams Operative Under Investigation for Shelter Melee | The CITY
- Before Shelter Melee, Adams Aide Found Guilty of Obstructing NYPD Investigation into Domestic Incident | The CITY
Last updated: 12/18/2023
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