By Katie Honan and Gwynne Hogan | November 2, 2023
Federal agents raided the Crown Heights home of a top fundraiser for Mayor Eric Adams early Thursday, according to reports, leading the mayor to return to the city immediately after traveling to Washington D.C. to discuss the migrant crisis.
The raid on the residence of Brianna Suggs, first reported by The New York Times, happened as Adams arrived in the capital where he had been scheduled to join the mayors of Denver and Chicago to meet with senior White House and other officials. But after 9 a.m. he abruptly canceled all of his meetings and turned right around to return to New York City to deal with “a matter,” his spokesperson said.
A source close to the campaign said Suggs, who is also a fundraiser for the mayor’s 2025 re-election campaign and for the Adams-associated political action committee, Striving for a Better New York, was “committed to elect Eric Adams as mayor.”
“She was involved with everything, especially fundraising,” the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told THE CITY.
Adams himself remarked on the federal probe after returning to New York at two events on Thursday evening. Speaking to reporters after delivering remarks at a reception for the New York Board of Rabbis, Adams said he’d been “shocked” to hear “the preliminary reports” that donations to his campaign had came from Turkey.
“We carry a very strict review to do the best we can and make sure that we are having those dollars that are coming in that are appropriate,” he said. “We turn down a lot of money, we send it back, we don’t believe it’s correct, so we adhere to a very strict policy in our campaign… probably one of the strictest reviews.”
Suggs, Adams said, was “a real professional. She does her job well well and she’s going to comply with any inquiry.”
Asked if he had spoken with Suggs today, Adams said “not at all. Not at all.”
Later, as he presided over a Día de Muertos event at Gracie Mansion, Adams said “I hold my campaign to the highest ethical standards. Any inquiry that is done, we’re going to fully participate and make sure that it’s done correctly,” noting that he had not been contacted by any law enforcement agency.
“That’s why I came back from D.C., to be here, to be on the ground and look at this inquiry as it is made.”
Jordan Barowitz, a spokesperson for Suggs, didn’t immediately comment. An NYPD spokesperson referred questions about the raid to City Hall and the FBI.
“Brianna is hard-working and deeply involved in city politics and fundraising,” said one political consultant, who has worked with Democratic political candidates in Brooklyn. “But she is young and trusting and bit off more than she bargained for.”
Hours after the raid, one student who happened to be filming a movie a half block down on Lincoln Place said he had seen men in FBI vests placing boxes into the back of a minivan early Thursday morning.
Christopher Kelly Burwell, 54, who lives across the street from the Lincoln Place residence, said he awoke to the crowd of officers outside his house.
“I never seen the FBI on the block,” Burwell said. “It was scary.”
Questions have recently swirled around fundraising for Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign.
Last week, Shahid and Yahya Mushtaq — two brothers who run a construction company in Queens — pled guilty to misdemeanor conspiracy charges in connection with a straw donor scheme to gain a generous public matching funds for the mayor.
The city’s Campaign Finance Board had questioned Adams’ fundraising team about their donations less than two months after they submitted the six allegedly falsified money orders to the campaign.
They were among six donors who were indicted in July for allegedly organizing illegal straw donations to the Adams campaign.
An investigation by THE CITY in August also found multiple instances of people listed as donors to the mayor — all employees of the New World Mall in Flushing — who said they did not give.
The donation clusters, found through a review of thousands of campaign finance records and dozens of interviews, should have raised obvious red flags to the Adams campaign and the city’s Campaign Finance Board, experts told THE CITY.
Additional reporting by Yoav Gonen, George Joseph and Greg B. Smith.
This story was published by THE CITY on November 2, 2023.