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Man pleads not guilty in NYPD bribery case, prosecutor says

Alex Lichtenstein, center, exits a federal courthouse in

Alex Lichtenstein, center, exits a federal courthouse in Manhattan after being arraigned on Monday, May 23, 2016. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

FBI agents have seized 10 computer hard drives and thumb drives from the home of an upstate man arrested two months ago on charges he paid bribes to NYPD officers for help in obtaining pistol permits, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kan M. Nawaday revealed the results of the April 18 search of the Pomona home of Alex Lichtenstein during a short arraignment in Manhattan federal court, during which Lichtenstein pleaded not guilty to a two-count indictment.

The charges against Lichtenstein stem from a wide-ranging joint investigation by the FBI and NYPD internal-affairs investigators into allegations of possible bribery and other misconduct by mostly high-ranked cops.

Lichtenstein is accused of offering bribes to members of the police pistol-licensing bureau to help people get pistol permits.

Nawaday said that prosecutors would be reviewing the data obtained from the drives, as well as stacks of bank records and pistol-permit applications filed with the NYPD, as they prepare for Lichtenstein’s possible trial.

The materials would be fully turned over to Lichtenstein and his defense attorneys in about six weeks, Nawaday said.

At the arraignment, Judge Sidney H. Stein scheduled August 16 as the next court appearance in the case, and granted a request by Lichtenstein’s defense attorney Richard Finkel for the substitution of another person to guarantee Lichstenstein’s $500,000 bail bond set in April. He has been free on bond since his arrest.

After appearing before Stein, Lichtenstein left the courthouse in the company of his family and attorney. Both Lichtenstein and Finkel declined to comment.

According to a federal criminal complaint, Lichtenstein was recorded by an undercover cop allegedly offering the officer $6,000 for every gun license that was delivered.

Lichtenstein was identified in the complaint as a member of the Shomrim safety patrol in Borough Park, described as a “ostensibly unarmed Orthodox Jewish patrol society whose mission includes crime and locating missing people.”

Officials at Shomrim couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

According to the complaint, Lichtenstein served as an expediter who for a fee would assist people with filing paperwork as part of a handgun application. Payments to a paperwork expediter are legal, but not payments to police officers, officials noted.


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