Corruption

Retired NYPD cops, ex-prosecutor caught in corruption scandal

Four men — including two retired NYPD cops and a former Brooklyn assistant district attorney — were busted Tuesday as part of a widespread corruption scandal in which they accepted bribes in exchange for expediting gun permits, according to new court papers filed in Manhattan federal court.

Paul Dean and Robert Espinel, worked in the NYPD’s Licensing Division before retiring, and allegedly approved permits for kickbacks including cash “food, alcohol, parties, dancers and prostitutes” from gun expediters, the newly unsealed complaint says.

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Dean, a lieutenant, served as “one of the highest ranking officers in the division” and had the authority to approve or reject licenses before retiring in January 2016, according to court papers.

He and Espinel, who retired as a police officer around the same time, allegedly accepted bribes and kickbacks from gun expediters, including Gaetano “Guy” Valastro, a retired detective who owns firearms store Valastro International Tactical Academy in Queens and is also charged in the scandal.

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The FBI was probing Dean and Espinel for suddenly retiring to start a gun-license consulting business – around the same time Brooklyn Shromrim leader Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein was bribing officers in the Licensing Division, the Post reported last May.

The new criminal complaint alleges that Dean and Espinel hatched a plan in late 2015 to work out of Valastro’s store and steer clients back to Valastro to purchase guns.

The pair also planned to bribe their former Licensing Division colleagues to get special treatment for their clients, and sought to corner the market by forcing other expediters to work through them.

They tried to shake down Lichtenstein for $500 per client for use of their access to the Licensing Division and threatened to cut off other expediters if they refused to work with them, court papers say.

Espinel’s lawyer, John T. Powers, denied that his client had anything to do with the corruption scandal.

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