New York City Mayor Eric Adams told reporters that for decades he carried in his wallet a photo of his friend, Officer Robert Venable, who died in the line of duty in 1987. When The New York Times asked to see the image in February 2022, the mayor showed a photo that appeared weathered and aged. But, the Times reported Thursday, that photograph was created by Adams’ staff shortly after he claimed to have carried it for years.
A person familiar with the matter informed the Times that the mayor’s employees were told to create the photograph and used city resources to do so. The anonymous source said staff printed an image of Venable found on Google, then aged the photo by making it appear tattered and worn in places, even going so far as to spill coffee on it.
Adams spokesman Fabien Levy did not deny that the photo the mayor showed the Times last February was a recent creation. But Levy also told the Times that Adams, who was a police officer for more than 20 years, did carry a photo of Venable for years. Levy directed the Times to Adams’ former colleagues, who confirmed the two men were friends. One, Cliff Hollingsworth, recalled Adams “taking Robert’s death very personally.”
Adams told the paper that the photo was “always in my wallet until my wallet got too bulky,” so he said he transferred it to a money clip. “He was a very dear friend and it keeps me committed,” the mayor said of Venable.
Adams continued to tell the story of carrying the photo, at the Police Academy’s Medal Day ceremony last June and in television interviews last April.
This is not the first time Adams has been accused of fabrication. The mayor has claimed to be a vegan, but Politico noted last year that Adams frequently eats fish. During his mayoral campaign, some in the media questioned whether Adams actually lived in New York state or if he resided in a condo he owned in New Jersey, as some of his tax documents stated. Adams explained the discrepancy by blaming the error on an “incorrect decision” by his accountant, who he said was living in a homeless shelter at the time, which “may have caused him to make some bad decisions.”
When the Times reached out to Venable’s daughter, Januari Venable, she told the paper that she was surprised to hear Adams was carrying her father’s photo. “All I can say is that as far as being in his wallet or not, the fact that people still think of my dad all these years later — whatever the meaning behind it — it makes me thankful that he’s not being forgotten,” she said.
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