3 ex-NYPD officers, former assistant DA charged in gun license bribery scheme
They were allegedly given vacations, parties, cash and prostitutes in exchange for swift gun permit approvals.
Three former NYPD officers and a former assistant district attorney were arrested Tuesday and charged in a years-long gun license bribery scheme, officials said.
The three-year federal investigation found that the cops and former ADA allegedly gave speedy gun permit approvals in exchange for cash, free vacations, prostitutes, parties and more.
“The behavior, as alleged in today’s charging documents, is intolerable,” NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said in a statement. “The NYPD will continue to investigate alleged wrongdoing and root out corruption wherever it might be found.”
The arrested and charged are:
Former Lt. Paul Dean: Second in command of the NYPD’s License Division, the 44-year-old Wantagh resident was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of extortion. The bribery charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while the extortion charge is punishable by a maximum of 10 years. He was a member of the NYPD from 1994-2016.
Former officer Robert Espinel: The 47-year-old Seaford resident faces the same charges as Dean. He was a member of NYPD from 1995 until his retirement in 2016.
Former officer Gaetano “Guy” Valastro: The 58-year-old Queens resident was also charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of making false statements, which also carries a five-year maximum prison sentence. After retiring from the force in 1999, he ran a gun store.
John Chambers: The former Kings County assistant district attorney, 62, who lives in Manhattan, was charged with one count each of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery. The first carries a 10-year maximum sentence, while the latter five years.
“Corruption at the license division also spawned a cottage industry of parasitic profiteers, alleged bribers masquerading as so-called expediters” like Chambers, Joon H. Kim, acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney, said in a statement. “The critically important police function of issuing and controlling gun licenses was one they were willing to pervert for personal profit.”
Tuesday’s charges also unsealed guilty pleas by former NYPD License Division Sgt. David Villaneuva and gun license expediter Frank Soohoo, who were both accused of being involved in the scheme and who both agreed to cooperate with government investigators.