NYPD probe ensnares man offering to expedite gun permits


A Brooklyn volunteer safety patrol member was charged Monday with bribing cops with $6,000 in cash and other goodies to expedite gun permit requests, and three officers were transferred out of the licensing unit as part of the far-reaching NYPD corruption probe.

Shaya (Alex) Lichtenstein, 44, was so cozy with cops in the License Division that he’d spent nearly every day inside the office in police headquarters since 2014, federal court papers say.  

Shaya “Alex” Lichtenstein was collared Saturday and is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.“He was no less than an arms dealer for the community,” said prosecutor Kan Nawaday.

The NYPD also transferred the License Division’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Michael Endall, 48, into an administrative position “pending further review.”

The department additionally put Sgt. David Villanueva, 42, and Officer Richard Ochetal, 36, on modified duty.

Lichtenstein, who has his own gun permit, is a member of the Borough Park Shomrim, the Jewish volunteer patrol. He was arrested Sunday at his Pomona, Rockland County, home.

He would charge members of the Orthodox community between $5,000 and $25,000 to expedite their gun permit requests, community sources said.

The process typically takes at least a year and candidates with low-level criminal offenses are almost always nixed.

One applicant approved for a gun permit in 2013 had a long criminal history, the feds said.

The probe began this month after Lichtenstein approached an unnamed officer and tried to bribe him, court papers said.

The officer turned to the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau, which launched a sting with the feds.

They arranged a meeting in Borough Park where Lichtenstein allegedly patted down the officers, according to video from the gathering.

After one officer complained, Lichtenstein said he’d rather meet the man “in your underpants and your undershirt.”

The undercover then said he was nervous about getting involved in the scheme.

In response, Lichtenstein pulled out a calculator and estimated the officer could earn $900,000 if he helped with an estimated 150 permits.

“I got so many licenses last year,” Lichtenstein allegedly bragged.

He claimed all of his customers were eligible applicants and that he was merely asking the officers to speed up the process, the complaint shows.

But a review of his cases showed one applicant who was approved for gun permit in 2013 had a long criminal history, prosecutors said.

The unnamed full carry license holder had been arrested for forgery and was the subject of at least four domestic violence complaints, “including one in which he was accused of threatening to kill someone,” the complaint said.

The person also had 10 moving violations and three vehicle-related summonses.

Lichtenstein was released on a $500,000 personal recognizance bond. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge.

His lawyer, Richard Finkle, argued in court that his client was a “family man and a community minded man who’s charged with bribery.”

Lichenstein, whose family and friends packed the courtroom Monday, has deep ties to the community, and was a “fundraiser and fund-contributor” to various organizations, Finkle added.

Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman disagreed with prosecutors’ portrayal of him as an “arms dealer,” calling it somewhat “hyperbolic.”  He also seemed to think that his deep community ties minimized his risk of flight.

The arrest is tied to an ongoing federal probe that involves top police brass taking gifts in return for favors.

“This case was developed as part of a long-term joint investigation by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the United States Attorney’s Office,” Bratton said.

“As we have previously stated, this investigation will continue to go where the leads take us.”

The feds also are looking at a Dominican Republic trip bankrolled by Jona Rechnitz, a top fund-raiser for Mayor de Blasio. Recnhitz is part of a larger federal probe of the NYPD.

“There were hookers everywhere,” said one source.

A second source said investigators are also looking at a Bronx cop whose father may have ties to a Dominican resort.

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