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NYPD officers arrested following prostitution ring probe, officials say

The Queens district attorney said a retired detective allegedly used his knowledge of the inner workings of the police department to run a string of brothels in Queens, Brooklyn and Hempstead

Seven NYPD officers were arrested Wednesday, accused of providing protection to prostitution and gambling businesses in Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau, officials said.

The cops were charged with official misconduct and other offenses, said an NYPD spokesman. 

Two other officers weren’t criminally charged but were placed on modified assignment and could face administrative charges, based on their conduct in the case, the spokesman said.

The NYPD said the following officers were charged: Sgt. Carlos Cruz, 41, one count of enterprise corruption; Sgt. Louis Failla, 49, four counts of official misconduct; Sgt. Cliff Nieves, 37, one count of promoting prostitution; Officer Steven Nieves, 32, one count of promoting prostitution; Officer Giancarlo Raspanti, 43, one count of receiving reward for official misconduct, two counts of official misconduct; Det. Giovanny Rojas-Acosta, 40, one count of enterprise corruption, Det. Rene Samaniego, 43, two counts of enterprise corruption.

A retired detective, Ludwig Paz, 51, was also arrested and charged with two counts of enterprise corruption and one count of promoting prostitution, the NYPD said.  

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Paz 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.

NYPD officials were expected to hold a news conference Thursday to disclose details of the case.

The case began in 2015 when a cop tipped off the police Internal Affairs Bureau about possible misconduct, officials said. The investigation involved hundreds of hours of surveillance and wiretaps, said the spokesman.

The illegal businesses allegedly being protected involved prostitution and gambling operations in the Roosevelt Avenue area of Queens, as well as locations in Brooklyn. Some 40 civilians were also being sought in the case, the NYPD said.

In a statement, Commissioner James O’Neill said, “Today, those who swore an oath and then betrayed it have felt the consequences of that infidelity. 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.”

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown issued a statement saying: “The overwhelming number of police officers are honest and dedicated to making New York City a safe place to live. Neither my office nor Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill will tolerate that tiny percentage of officers who besmirch the reputation of the thousands upon thousands of their noble colleagues”.

A spokesman for the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association declined to comment on the charges. Representatives of the Detectives Endowment Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association could not be reached for comment.

The defendants are to be arraigned Thursday in Queens Supreme Court.

With Ellen Yan and Zachary Dowdy

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