7 NYPD Officers Arrested in Connection With Prostitution Ring
QUEENS, NEW YORK CITY — September 13, 2018
Seven members of the NYPD have been arrested after repeated prostitution and narcotics cases dating back to 2015.
The suspects -- three sergeants, two detectives, and two officers -- were reportedly based in Queens and Brooklyn and were believed to be providing protection for the operation of the prostitution and gambling ring in the same boroughs, law enforcement officials said.
Two other officers, including a detective who until five months ago worked in the Internal Affairs Bureau, were stripped of their guns and shields and placed on administrative duty.
The police said that more than 40 civilians were also in custody or being sought in connection with the investigation, which began with an anonymous officer’s tip to the internal affairs unit in April 2015.
According to the investigation, a retired NYPD detective and his wife, a former prostitute, ran brothels located in the confines of the 72nd Precinct in Sunset Park in Brooklyn and along Roosevelt Avenue in Queens. Others helped them in providing security or information.
In Sunset Park on Wednesday evening, Luis Ludec, 60, a resident, said he has seen prostitutes working in the neighborhood.
"I've seen them at 5 a.m. on the corner," he said, motioning toward 40th Street along Third Avenue. "You see the rubbers."
It is known that area residents and public officials have long complained about brothels operating out of local homes, spas and bars, with new establishments popping up as quickly as the police shut the old ones down.
The suspects have been identified as:
- Sgt. Carlos Cruz, 69th Precinct Det. Squad, charged with enterprise corruption;
- Sgt. Louis Failla, Patrol Borough Queens South, charged with official misconduct;
- Sgt. Cliff Nieves, Transit Bureau Investigation, charged with promoting prostitution;
- PO Steven Nieves, 84th Precinct, charged with promoting prostitution;
- PO Giancarlo Raspanti, 109th Precinct, charged with official misconduct;
- Det. Gionanny Rojas-Acosta, Central Investigation Division, charged with enterprise corruption;
- Det. Rene Samaniego, Brooklyn South Vice, charged with enterprise corruption.
"Today, those who swore an oath and then betrayed it have felt the consequences of that infidelity," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said in a statement. "The people of this department are rightly held to the highest standard, and should they fail to meet it, the penalty will be swift and severe. I thank Deputy Commissioner Joseph Reznick for the thorough investigation performed by the Internal Affairs Bureau, in partnership with the Queens District Attorney's Office, in rooting out this illicit activity. His unit initiated this probe and in doing so, has sent a clear message: there is no place in the NYPD for criminal or unethical behavior."
Mr. O’Neill said with the arrests, the internal affairs unit and the Queen's district attorney has “sent a clear message: There is no place in the N.Y.P.D. for criminal or unethical behavior.”
Many of the women involved in the case appear to be from Central America, police say.
More than 40 civilians were also arrested or are still being sought. Authorities say that includes the retired NYPD detective and his wife.
The Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said the officers are expected to be arraigned Thursday in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens.
The investigation dates to 2015 when NYPD Internal Affairs received a tip from a fellow officer. They then compiled hundreds of hours of surveillance and wiretaps, officials said. The officers will be prosecuted by the Queens District Attorney's Office.