Prosecutors have released the names and charges of the seven NYPD officers arrested on Wednesday, following a three-year investigation into their alleged role in providing protection for brothels in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island.
The three sergeants, two detectives and two officers appeared in court on Thursday to face a range of charges including enterprise corruption, official misconduct, and promoting prostitution.
A Queens County grand jury has also indicted retired NYPD detective Ludwig Paz, the alleged mastermind of the operation, for his role in leading the “complex prostitution ring and a gambling enterprise with his wife,” according to the NYPD. He allegedly controlled seven of the eight brothels under investigation, and paid current NYPD officers for information that helped him avoid raids. The brothels used online ads to attract customers, and took in more than $2 million in a year, police said
ALARMING: The 7 NYPD officers who were just arrested for running a gambling & prostitution ring, have been under investigation for the last 3 years. During the last 3 years, they were still on the force, armed, making arrests, interacting w/ my clients, like no one knew anything. https://t.co/0Tp85CAAam
— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) September 13, 2018
“As we sit here today, the reality is that a number of our uniformed members of various ranks have tarnished the shields that they wore,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said at a news conference on Thursday. “They have ruined their own careers and reputations. But more importantly, they have diminished the great work of tens of thousands of honest, honorable and ethical cops. And that should make every cop who has ever done this job angry.”
One NYPD commanding officer told the NY Times he was dismayed “that fellow cops would stoop so low, for so little and that they would betray the oath and the badge for nonsense.”
The Times also reports that the accused officers have been the subject of numerous excessive force complaints and lawsuits over the years. One lawsuit, which was settled out of court, accused Detective Rene Samaniego of assaulting her and then “doctoring paperwork to claim she had committed an assault.”
Forty-nine civilians were also involved in running the prostitution ring, prosecutors said, and a source tells the Post that investigators are targeting an additional 30 cops for questioning and possible arrest.
“The vast majority of NYPD police officers are honest and dedicated to enforcing and upholding the law,” D.A. Brown said on Thursday. “However, today’s indictments of one former detective and seven current police officers of the NYPD dishonor the badge.”
The names of the seven officers and the charges they face are as follows:
Sgt. Carlos Cruz, 69th Precinct Det. Squad, enterprise corruption; Sgt. Louis Failla, Queens Evidence Collection Team, official misconduct; Sgt. Cliff Nieves, Transit Bureau Investigation, promoting prostitution; PO Steven Nieves, 84th Precinct, promoting prostitution; PO Giancarlo Raspanti, 109th Precinct, official misconduct; Det. Gionanny Rojas-Acosta, Criminal Investigation Division Training, enterprise corruption; Det. Rene Samaniego, Brooklyn South Vice, enterprise corruption.