A group of former NYPD officers is facing charges of taking high-end bribes to speed up the process for approving gun licenses in the city. The retired officers, along with an assistant district attorney, accepted such gifts as prostitutes, trips to Mexico, meals and other gifts from their clientele.

NBC News reports:

John Chambers, 62, an assistant district attorney in the 1980s and now the self-styled “Top Firearms Licensing Attorney in New York,” was charged in Manhattan federal court with bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery, according to federal prosecutors.

Former NYPD officers Paul Dean and Robert Espinel were each charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of extortion. And ex-NYPD officer Gaetano “Guy” Valastro was charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of making false statements.

The allegedly crooked quartet was ensnared by a three-year police internal affairs and FBI investigation of the NYPD’s License Division, whose job it is to approve gun permits.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Jim issued a statement saying that the scheme was the work of the former prosecutor and officers acting as “expediters” of the licenses in exchange for taking bribes. Former NYPD Sgt. David Villanueva, 43, of Valley Stream, and former officer Richard Ochetal implicated the other officers in the case. Along with so-called gun expediter Frank Soohoo, 55. all three man plead guilty to bribery and other charges.

In all, over 100 gun licenses were illegally processed across Long Island and Manhattan, with special favor given to NYPD officers along with the use of department resources to speed things along. Lt. Dean was the second-highest ranking officer in the department’s License Division and had final say over the approval and rejection of the licenses.

If charges stick, the accused group could face as much as 10 years in prison.

Photo: CCO Public Domain

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