NYPD officers charged in illicit gambling, prostitution operation

NYPD officers charged in illicit gambling, prostitution operation
Seven active-duty NYPD officers were arrested on Wednesday for their role in an illicit gambling and prostitution ring. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Seven active-duty New York Police Department officers are set to be arraigned Thursday on charges connected to their alleged roles in a prostitution and gambling ring.

What are the details?

The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau was tipped off about the alleged operation by another cop and began investigating it in April 2015. All told, three sergeants, two detectives, two officers, and 40 civilians were charged Wednesday in connection with the illicit scheme.

NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill issued a statement following the arrests.

“Today, those who swore an oath and then betrayed it have felt the consequences of that infidelity,” he said. “The people of the Department are rightly held to the highest standard, and should they fail to meet it, the penalty will be swift and severe.”

The active-duty suspects have been identified as Sergeants Carlos Cruz, Louis Failla, Cliff Nieves, Officers Steven Nieves and Giancarlo Raspanti, and Detectives Giovanny Acosta-Rojas and Rene Samaniego. Each is accused of covering for the operation.

WNBC-TV reported that former Detective Ludwig Paz is accused of masterminding the operation with his wife, Arelis Peralta. The couple faces charges of enterprise corruption, along with the two detectives.

The ring included eight brothels in three counties and several gambling operations based out of beauty salons, delis, and other locations.

Investigators used wiretaps, surveillance, and undercover officers to build evidence over the course of three years. According to WNBC, prosecutors say the brothels brought in more than $2 million between August 2016 and September 2017.

What else?

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown issued a statement Thursday, saying, “The vast majority of NYPD police officers are honest and dedicated to enforcing and upholding the law. However, today’s indictments of one former detective and seven current police officers of the NYPD dishonor the badge.”

“The main culprit in this case — a retired detective — allegedly used his knowledge of the inner workings of the New York City Police Department to run a string of brothels in Queens, Brooklyn and Hempstead, Long Island,” Brown continued. “His alleged illegal enterprise also included using established lotteries to run illegal gambling in beauty salons and other locations in two boroughs. These operations stop today.”