A group of corrupt New York police officers are under fire for swapping handgun licenses to customers for bribes including large quantities of cash, high-end jewelry, prostitutes and lavish vacations. A former assistant district attorney was also involved in the mayhem. He was charged with bribing cops with luxuries in a similar complaint.
Obtaining a gun license in the state of New York requires residents to jump through quite a few hoops, one of them being the consent of the NYPD. Several people, called “expeditors” are given the responsibility to illegally speed up the process for clients, oftentimes banding with officers who are willing to push their application to the front for extra funds. One wealthy broker went as far to pay for one officer's honeymoon to Hawaii, and several other cops' trips to the Bahamas and Mexico in exchange for an expedited license.
A growing list of men have been apprehended and charged for conspiracy to commit bribery. Of these suspects is former police lieutenant Paul Dean, licensing division sergeant David Villanueva, and ex police officers Robert Espinel and Gaetano Valastro. Valastro is especially crucial in this case, since after his retirement from the police department he became a gun store owner who accepted bribes to expedite permits. So far, these men, along with a few other co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty. Lawyer and former assistant district attorney John Chambers had a few clients of his own that he bribed cops to take care of. He was also charged with conspiracy to commit robbery. Investigators say they wouldn't be surprised if a few more law enforcement suspects are arrested and charged as the case develops.
As a result of the arrests, investigators and authorities have delve into past approved licensing paperwork and applications. They have uncovered a whopping 440 suspicious licenses associated with the scandal - including 100 licenses that have been suspended. Under these cops' watch, gun licenses were issued to people with extensive criminal histories, including those convicted for violent crimes.
According to the New York state website, applicants are not eligible for a license if they have had prior felony or serious convictions. However, in the case of one approved and upgraded license, Dean, the second in command of the Licensing Division, had allowed a man who had been arrested for assault twice - one of these assault charges was for whipping out a gun. The officers had failed to properly interview applicants, ignoring customers with prior run-ins with the law.
Current acting U.S. attorney Joon Kim made an announcement that reprimanded the crooked cops in the department while uplifting their counterparts for helping to uncover the corruption.
“All of this shows that the NYPD is prepared to police its own, and is committed to living up to the principle that no one is above the law,” Kim said.
Law enforcement is not infallible or faultless. Interactions with corrupt police officers can easily lead to the arrest of innocent citizens. If you have acquired criminal charges in the Seattle area, you need a quality defense. Contact criminal defense attorney Steve Karimi for a free consultation of your case today.