The corruption investigation into the NYPD’s gun licensing department has led to the suspension of about two dozen pistol permits and the review of close to 150 applications, said a high-ranking law enforcement official Monday.
The permits are being pulled back for review as NYPD internal affairs investigators probe the dealings of cops who handled pistol applications in which a Borough Park safety patrol member may have acted as a paperwork facilitator, the official said.
Any handguns held by those whose permits have been pulled will have to be surrendered to the local precincts pending the outcome of the inquiry which, if no wrongdoing is found, could lead to the licenses being restored, according to the official.
NYPD gun licensing procedures became the center of a corruption investigation after FBI and NYPD officials determined that the safety patrol member, Alex Lichtenstein, may have attempted to bribe some cops for help in getting his clients gun permits.
Lichtenstein was arrested last month on federal bribery charges after an undercover officer taped him allegedly offering the cop $6,000 for every license the officer delivered.
Lichtenstein, 44, a resident of upstate Pomona, has denied any wrongdoing and is free on bond. He had been a member of the Shomrim safety patrol, based in Borough Park.
As a result of the pistol permit investigation, three officers have been disciplined: A sergeant and a police officer were placed on modified assignment and transferred out of the licensing unit and Deputy Inspector Michael Endall was transferred out of unit and reassigned to an administrative position pending further review, Commissioner William Bratton said April 18.
The gun licensing scandal is one of a number of activities in the NYPD that have triggered joint department and FBI probes. According to law enforcement sources and court records, investigators have been looking into possible improper gifts given to some high-ranking police brass by politically connected businessmen from Borough Park.
The investigation also led to the indictment of businessman Hamlet Peralta on charges he ran a $12 million Ponzi scheme. Officials have said that at least one NYPD officer investigated in the scheme while another may have solicited others to give money.
So far, only Lichtenstein and Peralta have been charged. No NYPD officers have been accused of any wrongdoing.