Eric Adams’ NYPD Boss Brother Previously Worked With Multi-level Marketing Company
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On Friday, news broke that Mayor Eric Adams tapped his younger brother, Bernard Adams, to serve as a deputy commissioner of the New York City Police Department. The move raised eyebrows and questions about both nepotism and whether it is legal for the mayor, who took office on December 31, to hire a close family member. And now, The Uprising has learned that the younger Adams previously worked with a multi-level marketing company that has faced lawsuits and scrutiny over its business practices.
Like his brother, Bernard Adams is a former NYPD officer. According to the New York Post, which first reported his new job, Bernard retired as a sergeant and will now oversee governmental affairs at One Police Plaza. Bernard was previously the “parking operations manager” at Virginia Commonwealth University’s main undergraduate campus in Richmond. A Linkedin page that appears to belong to Bernard said he has worked at the school since May 2008.
On his Facebook page, Bernard Adams indicated he had another job while he was at VCU. The page describes him as having worked with “independent associates” of Legalshield, a company which provides legal services for a monthly membership fee. Both Adams and his wife, Sharon, posted about the company in 2014 and the following year.
Legalshield provides legitimate attorneys’ services to members, but over the years, the company has faced criticism and courtroom battles over its reliance on multi-level marketing where independent “associates” sell memberships and recruit other salespeople. Critics argue MLM’s are abusive and often compare them to pyramid schemes. Industry advocates point to a key distinction, in illegal pyramid schemes new members only make money by bringing in new recruits, MLM’s, on the other hard, grant associates commissions for their own sales.
A spokesperson for Legalshield did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In 2000, the Canadian Broadcasting Company published an investigation into a previous iteration of the company, Pre-Paid Legal, that claimed some former associates experienced a “dream lost” after being encouraged to purchase expensive materials. The following year, Pre-Paid agreed to pay a small settlement after the Wyoming attorney general’s office conducted an investigation into whether the company made “misleading” statements to associates about potential income in violation of that state’s “Multilevel and Pyramid Distributorship Act.”
In 2005, Pre-Paid and its founding CEO, the late Harland Stonecipher, were forced to pay $9.9 million for defrauding a customer in Mississippi. According to TheStreet.com;s Melissa Davis, the company was accused of misrepresenting both the value of its product and the opportunity for associates. As part of that case, jurors reportedly saw a video of a speech Stonecipher delivered to associates where the CEO tore hundred dollar bills and declared, “Three cheers for greed.”
“Pre-Paid critics claim that the company targets the working poor, including minorities, in particular,” Davis wrote.
However, Davis also pointed out that Pre-Paid had previously won a “string of victories” in other court cases including defeating a class action suit that accused the company of being a pyramid scheme. Pre-Paid changed its name to Legalshield in September 2011 after it was acquired by the private equity firm MidOcean Partners. which currently owns the company along with Stone Point Capital and Further Global Capital Management.
On October 5, 2014, Bernard Adams posted a picture to Facebook that showed him and his wife, Sharon, posing with a gleaming BMW festooned with LegalShield logos. Bernard described the pair as “LegalShield Performance Club BMW Drivers.” Sharon Adams posted a photo of a business card to her Facebook page in 2015 that indicated she and Bernard were “Independent Associates” for Legalshield. According to a promotional video, Legalshield associates can qualify for the “Performance Club” by reaching sales and recruitment targets. Associates earn bonuses of up to $500 that the company has allowed to go to payments for BMWs.
“To qualify every month I make sure that I am talking to people about Legalshield when I go about my day-to-day activities,” one woman said in a video promoting the Performance Club.
In comments below his Facebook post showing the BMW, Bernard and Sharon Adams praised the program.
“So blessed to be apart of this fantastic opportunity,” wrote Sharon.
“Trying to help families get access to a much needed service,” Bernard added.
One of the couple’s Facebook friends noticed something else after seeing Bernard with the car.
“Man if you don't look like Eric!!!!” the friend wrote.
Bernard did not respond to multiple requests for comment on Friday evening. As of this writing, Bernard and Sharon Adams do not appear to be listed in Legalshield’s online directory of independent associates.
Thanks to Bernard’s new job, the pair may not need any more outside income. According to the New York Post, deputy police commissioners, who are civilians, normally make about $242,000. Eric Adams is the third mayor in a row to give a close family member a role in their administration, however, as noted by City & State’s Jeff Coltin, other familial hires were unpaid and the situation “would seem” to violate the city charter.
Mayor Adams and his team did not respond to multiple questions about Bernard’s work with LegalShield or whether the mayor’s brother would be paid for his new NYPD role. Sharon Adams, Bernard’s wife, indicated she had to check in with the mayor’s team before answering any questions about her husband’s job.
“Anything as far as the reporters or anything media is going through — I believe — his brother has someone who’s responsible for that,” Sharon said. “Let me just call his staff and I’ll definitely get right back to you.”
She did not, in fact, get back to me.