Three retired NYPD officers were arrested as part of the ongoing probe into members of the department expediting gun permits for cash.
Two of them, former Lt. Paul Dean and Officer Robert Espinel, left the New York City Police Department early in 2016 when investigators began asking questions about their connections to Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein, a Borough Park Shomrim patrol leader initially charged with paying off police officers for expedited licenses.
Lichtenstein pleaded guilty and last month received 32 months in federal prison and two years supervised release.
Also arrested was former Detective Gaetano Valastro, who has run the Valastro International Tactical Academy in Queens since 2003. The store sells firearms and firearms-related gear and equipment, as well as firearms training courses. Valastro retired from the department in 1999.
The arrests stem from the probe into NYPD Sgt. David Villanueva, who was previously charged with accepting gifts in exchange for helping speed up weapons permits. He is expected to plead guilty.
Frank Soohoo, the owner of a police supply store in Flushing, Queens, also was arrested. He is expected to plead guilty. Soohoo is alleged to have taken Villanueva and officer Richard Ochetal, both assigned to the NYPD’s gun licensing division and previously charged, on vacations to the Bahamas.
John Chambers, also arrested, appears to be accused of being an expediter who worked with Villanueva to get accelerated gun permits.