A retired NYPD lieutenant, two retired NYPD officers and a former Brooklyn assistant district attorney were arrested Tuesday by FBI agents for allegedly building an unofficial fast-track into the department's gun licensing office, according to the justice department, NBC reported.
The process of obtaining gun licenses usually takes months as the division reviews the applicants' mental health and criminal record, personally interviews them, and conduct additional verifications looking into the reasons for why they need the firearm.
According to ThinkProgress, the license division suspects didn't limit their graft to approving the initial applications for the would-be gun owners but also helped theses clients keep their weapons even if the circumstances would normally have led the city to revoke a license, according to investigators.
Prosecutors identified retired Lieutenant Paul Dean, one of the two most senior officers at the license division along with retired Officer Robert Espinel as Dean's primary accomplice involved in taking the bribes. The two men allegedly have been taking bribes from expediters for a long time in exchange for passing applications through the system without doing any of the review required by New York City’s gun laws, ThinkProgress reported.
According to NBC, the officers received bribes in the form of Broadway and sports tickets, expensive watches, booze, food and strippers. The trading of gun licenses for bribes spanned at least six years, starting in 2010. Authorities allege the officers solicited thousands of dollars in fees to help people secure gun licenses.
According to the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim, bribes resulted in licenses awarded to individuals with substantial criminal histories, including convictions for crimes involving weapons or violence, NBC reported. "They sold their duty to do their jobs," Kim said. "They allegedly got more audacious as time went on."
NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said in a statement that the department had revoked at least 100 gun licenses and over 400 license applications are under review to ensure that they are properly processed.