On Tuesday, three retired New York Police Department (NYPD) officers and a former prosecutor were charged with providing firearm licenses in exchange for bribes. They were receiving an array of gifts, including food, alcohol, strippers, parties, sporting events and expensive articles of clothing and accessories. The scheme took place between 2010 and 2016.
According to prosecutors, at least 100 gun licenses were illegally-issued, some of which were provided to known convicted criminals. 348 more are deemed suspicious. The 100 illegally-issued licenses were suspended by the NYPD.
“They allegedly got more audacious as time went on,” acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim told Spectrum News NY 1.
Court documents show former Lt. Paul Dean, who was second in command in the licensing division, and former officer Robert Espinel were receiving bribes while working in for the NYPD. They say the amount of money license-expeditors were making and decided to go into business for themselves.
“I’m done watching people make money off my back. I’m the one who’s signing off on everything, and watching them get money hand over fist,” Dean was recorded saying.
According to Kim, the suspects saw license expeditors making huge sums of money, some as much as $10,000.
“They allegedly sold their oath to serve and protect, they sold their duty to do their jobs, they just issued gun licenses to whoever the bribing expediters brought them without conducting the necessary background checks, without questioning their need for a gun license and without following up on major red flags,” Kim told CBS New York. “Over 100 gun licenses were issued in this problematic way.”
What makes matters even worse? One of the people who received a license during this scheme was a known domestic abuser. He had four domestic violence complaints, including once incident where he threatened to kill someone.
To make sure this doesn’t happen again, NYPD “cleaned house” in the licensing division.
“We increased supervision,” said Police Commissioner James O’Neill. “All personnel at the command level of the division were replaced, including the commanding officer, the exec and civilian director.”
If the officers are found guilty, they could face up to 10 years in federal prison.