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In 2014, questionable Adams advisor Winnie Greco's bombastic claim, in her email sig, to be Brooklyn's "Director, China-U.S. Affairs Department"

In Brooklyn, (l.-r.) Borough President Eric Adams, 
Greenland's Xu Jing, Borough Hall Liaison Winnie Greco

The June 25 New York Post scoop, Feds probing Eric Adams and top adviser’s trips to China, sent me back to the limited evidence I have about a trip that Brooklyn Borough President Adams, now Mayor, and his advisor and Chinese community liaison Winnie Greco made May 22-June 1, 2014.

The current Borough President's office was unable to produce any emails regarding the trip. I have a few involving Greco, not Adams, the result of a Freedom of Information Law request I filed in 2014.

Evidence, albeit inconclusive, suggests that Greco was not using an official email address from the Borough President's office.

The most interesting thing I (re)discovered was Greco's bombastic email signature file, declaring herself--according to a machine translation--"Director, China-U.S. Affairs Department" of the "Brooklyn Borough Government, New York, USA."

I explain more below, but do note that bombastic titles are impressive in China, where government and business are intertwined.

Note: as I wrote in 2014, there's no such position as "director of China-US affair in Brooklyn"--Greco's claimed role in an online bio--at least as far as I knew. But it's possible that the Borough President's office didn't object to her claiming that title.

Greco under scrutiny

Greco in 2014 had a volunteer role; she's now a salaried mayoral aide, Director of Asian Affairs.

Greco was the subject of some tough investigations by the Post and by The CITY last year. On Feb. 29, 2024, The CITY reported on FBI raids of Greco's two Bronx homes, following up on some questionable fundraising in the Chinese community.

As the Daily News reported May 8, Greco then went on paid sick leave and was said to go on unpaid leave, but an Adams spokeswoman wouldn't confirm the latter happened. She was back at work at City hall by early May.

My 2014 coverage

My Sept. 17, 2014 coverage, based on documents received from a Freedom of Information Law request, was headlined Getting closer to Greenland: Brooklyn BP Adams, pushed by Forest City to meet with new partner in China, finally met in Brooklyn (plus questionable liaison).

The gist: Forest City Ratner, the powerhouse but struggling Brooklyn developer behind the Atlantic Yards project, wanted Adams, when visiting Shanghai, to meet with representatives of Greenland Holdings Group, parent of Greenland USA, about to control 70% of the megaproject going forward.

That meeting, based on a last-minute request, didn't happen, though Greco apparently tried to organize it at Borough Hall's request. Greenland executives did later meet Adams and Greco at Borough Hall in Brooklyn. Documents delivered via FOIL included photos of the meeting, as shown above.

Two pieces of email

The email below shows Greco writing to Kai Feder, the Borough President's Director of Capital Budget & Economic Development, and Forest City's Ashley Cotton, saying she'd try to set up the meeting but that time was tight. 

(Note: my hard copy documents suffered water damage; they were not delivered wrinkled.)

The email below shows Feder and Cotton trying to set up the meeting.

The Post notes

Isabel Vincent's Post article suggested that the FBI and federal prosecutors are looking for private emails and records of the seven trips Adams made to China.

"Both the FBI and federal prosecutors have flagged at least one trip taken by Adams which was partly funded by the Chinese Communist Party," Vincent wrote. 

The 2014 trip I wrote about was funded by Greco's opaque nonprofit organization, the Sino-America New York Brooklyn Archway Association Corp., with costs in other locations paid for by the host local governments.

However, the Post earlier reported that the Archway organization, which spent nearly $7,000 on trip expenses for Adams and Deputy BP Diana Reyna, had no discernible institutional history. Also, one of the organization's three directors said he had no idea how it paid for the trip.

Trip itinerary
No access to documents

Wrote Vincent:
The mayor’s office provided email correspondence from the 2014 trip with the Conflicts of Interest Board, the independent agency that enforces ethics for the city, which stated they “saw no apparent violation of the conflict of interest law” from the trip.

However, the administration of current Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso said it couldn’t locate or access data relevant to the China trips, according to a December document seen by The Post.
The Post noted that the mayoral office provided an outline of the trip, including meetings with local dignitaries and official site visits.

That likely was the document posted at right. 

Private emails?

The Post noted that it received no correspondence from Adams or Greco. Adams used personal email, according to a source, which is OK for non-governmental  while Greco "also used non-official emails." 

I saw no emails involving Adams in the documents delivered to me by FOIL.

The evidence suggests--though it's not definitive--that Greco, as a volunteer, did not use an official email address.

In the screenshot below, the staffers in the Borough President's office have (BROOKLYNBP) after their names, while Greco does not. In fact, the lower case "winnie greco" is perhaps more connected to a casual personal use. 

The signature file

I copied Greco's signature file and put the Chinese sections through Google Translate, then created something of a collage.

As indicated below, the line above her name, in Chinese, translates to "Brooklyn Borough Government, New York, USA."

The next line includes the name she's known by, Winnie Greco, as well as her Chinese name, Zheng Qirong.

Below that are Chinese words translated to her stated title, "Director, China-U.S. Affairs Department."

Below that, in English, are (USA) and (China).