Carone joined the ranks of the firm, Abrams Fensterman, a decade ago and was named a top partner six years later. During his tenure, he kept a hand in local politics and played a central role in Adams’ mayoral campaign.
Last year, Carone held between $1.2 million to $3.3 million in stocks, securities and a retirement account, according to the annual form — which was amended on Wednesday and released weeks after those of other top city officials. He invested in several industry-specific index funds along with Amazon, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), JP Morgan Chase and Waste Management, among others.
The lawyer also poured more than $1.5 million into a trio of businesses — a surgery center, an investment firm and a lending company — all headquartered at the same Lake Success address of one of Abrams Fensterman’s offices in Nassau County, according to the 23-page disclosure.
A man of high taste, Carone owns at least four properties, including a 5,000-square-foot house in Boca Raton, Fla., according to the disclosure. The ethics board does not require filers to list their primary residences, making it difficult to discern the scope of one’s real estate holdings. But Carone enjoys waterfront views from the deck of his Mill Basin home and purchased a $2.2 million co-op on the East Side of Manhattan after Adams took office.
Through the law firm, Carone provided legal guidance to the embattled Brooklyn Democratic Party, which is embroiled in a civil war between party loyalists and reformers — something that has spilled into the Adams administration’s political agenda as high-ranking staffers have gotten involved in low-level races to help allies and unseat foes.
But Carone’s relationship with Adams transcends politics.
During Adams’ 2021 mayoral campaign, he provided legal counsel, hosted fundraisers and offered discounted office space that the candidate only paid for after POLITICO inquired about the seeming freebie. In fact, the two are so close they have spent Thanksgiving dinners together.
They also share a penchant for the city’s pulsating night life.
“In my prior role as a law firm partner, the nature of my business required me to network and spend most nights at dinners and events,” Carone wrote in the disclosure form, explaining the up-to-$10,000 in dinners and gifts he accepted over the course of 2021. “As a city employee, I have recused myself from working on any matters involving any of my former clients.”
As POLITICO previously reported, Carone divested from the firm on Dec. 31, 2021, and has employed something of an honor system as he navigates potential conflicts of interest with Abrams Fensterman clients who have city business. For example, a high-profile real estate firm he represented, Fortis Property Group, is building a waterfront skyscraper in Downtown Brooklyn for which it will have interactions with municipal agencies. The company has also lobbied the Adams administration, though not Carone directly, public reports show.
Carone disclosed that days before the start of the Adams administration, he was still owed more than $500,000 from clients.
“I had many clients who owed fees for services rendered and cannot list names,” Carone wrote on his Conflicts of Interest Board disclosure. The form, which was amended on Wednesday and released weeks after most city officials’ disclosures, covers all of 2021.
“Before he began his position at City Hall, Frank fully separated from his former law firm,” City Hall spokesperson Fabien Levy said in a statement. “As part of that arrangement, he is not eligible for any additional payments due to his former firm. We cannot speak as to whether any of these accounts have been paid to the firm or not, as Frank has no involvement any longer.”
Asked why he did not name clients who owe money to the firm, Carone cited discretion.
“During the year, we bill clients and sometimes they pay on time and sometimes they do not. This is a general answer and nonetheless my clients from last year deserve privacy and I am obligated to respect that,” he said.
A representative of Abrams Fensterman — where Carone’s brother is a partner working in real estate and government relations — said the firm was in the process of collecting what it is owed, but stressed none of the money would go to Carone.
“The dollars referenced were owed to the entity Abrams Fensterman of which he was a member. … Those arrears are being collected by the firm,” said the representative, Gary Lewi. “It is important to restate that Mr. Carone has no interest in Abrams Fensterman and, for that matter, any asset of the firm.”