New York — Mayor Eric Adams defended his relationship with a restaurateur with a criminal history from a money laundering case, calling it an example of mentoring someone with a troubled past.

As POLITICO reported, Adams is close friends with Zhan “Johnny” Petrosyants, who often keeps watch as the mayor holds court at the upscale Midtown restaurant Osteria La Baia.

“Yes, I’m going to talk with people who have stumbled and fell,” Adams said Monday at an unrelated City Hall press conference when asked about his relationship with Petrosyants. “Because I’m perfectly imperfect, and this is a city made up of perfectly imperfect people.”

Petrosyants was charged in a money laundering case in federal court eight years ago. He and his twin brother, Robert, were indicted on 11 counts for taking part in a check-cashing scheme that involved medical billing companies. Johnny Petrosyants pleaded guilty to one of those counts and was sentenced to probation and community service, while his brother was sentenced to six months in federal prison.

Adams said the checkered past is no reason for the mayor not to associate with the restaurateur.

“I don’t know if you know it, but I have a criminal history. I was arrested as a 15-year-old,” he said, referencing a teenage arrest for trespassing after which he has described being beaten by police. “And the public said, ‘Eric, you turned your life around and we want to vote for you as mayor.’ You, all of you know how I am about giving people an opportunity. I mentor people everyday. You would be surprised at the types of people that I mentor and put them back on track with their lives.”

Adams and Petrosyants talk frequently and spend extensive time together, dining at restaurants and hobnobbing at clubs such as the exclusive Zero Bond in Noho, according to people familiar with their habits. Adams sometimes spends the night at Petrosyants’ Midtown condo in Trump World Tower, according to sources, although a spokesperson denied that the mayor ever stays over at the apartment.

Adams said it would be wrong to freeze his pal out because of his criminal history.

“If you inherit the belief that because someone did something, they should be discarded forever, that is going to impact predominantly Black and brown young men. Not acceptable,” he said.

Petrosyants is white.

“I’m going to be there to sit down and mentor people throughout my entire time as mayor. I did it as a state senator. And I did it as a police officer.”

Read more:

Get your custom MOON reading