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Three Former NYPD Officers and Lawyer Arrested
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New York gun permit

Summary: A Gun License Division Lieutenant, two police officers, and a lawyer were arrested for their roles in a scheme to trade gun permits for gifts.

A group of New York police officers and a lawyer were arrested after a federal gun licensing investigation discovered a scam involving gun permits in exchange for monetary gifts. A police lieutenant and two former police officers with the help of a lawyer to trade quick handling of gun permits in return for paid vacations, catered parties, cash, jewelry, and visits to strip clubs.


Police lieutenant Paul Dean, 44, was the second-highest ranking member of the License Division when he retired last January. He was responsible for the supervision of 40 uniformed police employees and had the top authority to approve and reject licenses as well as upgrade requests. The criminal complaint states that Dean sought out gun license applicants, asking for free meals, alcohol, car repairs, and entertainment.

CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer explained that the scheme resulted in hundreds of permits being pulled and the gun licensing unit going through an overhaul. The investigation alleges that the scheme started back in 2010 and ran until last year when they got wind of it. Authorities claim that members of the NYPD License Division asked for and accepted bribes from people that charged customers fees in order to obtain gun licenses.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said the “alleged corruption that pervaded the license division up to its senior levels that spawned a cottage industry of bribers masquerading as so-called expediters.” They were issuing permits without running background checks, giving permits to those with criminal records. One such criminal “had 10 moving violations and had been the subject of at least four domestic violence complaints including one in which he allegedly threatened to kill someone,” according to Kim.

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Dean was recorded by one applicant, Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein, saying, “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.” Lichtenstein was indicted, leading to the feds finding the recording of Dean on his computer.

The other people charged were former officer Robert Espinel and Gaetano Valastro, a former NYPD detective. Espinel worked in the license division until he retired last year. Valastro is now a gun license expediter and gun shop owner. If convicted, they face 10 years in federal prison.

Kim said, “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. Over 100 gun licenses were issued in this problematic way.”

The attorney charged was John Chambers, an assistant district attorney from 1983 to 1985 in the Brooklyn office. Authorities allege that Chambers marketed himself as the “Top Firearms Licensing Attorney in NY.” He claimed to specialize in interview, appeal, hearing, renewal, incident and any other issue in relation to gun licensing. Chambers allegedly gave members of the License Division monetary gifts including an $8,000 watch and cash hidden in magazines. His clients were from Long Island.

NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said, “Today’s announcement is not a happy occasion for any of us in the NYC Police Department. When members of our department betray the public’s trust through intentional illegal acts it erodes the confidence, the faith and goodwill every other member of the department of has worked so hard to earn from the millions of millions of people we dutily serve every day.”

Two others were charged as a result of the investigation but have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the authorities.

Do you think all police departments could benefit from some serious overhauling? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about untrustworthy police officers, read these articles:




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