The one-time NYPD sergeant from Long Island who was a central figure in a gun-licensing scandal before becoming a key government cooperating witness has been sentenced to prison despite support from prosecutors who praised his assistance.
David Villanueva, 45, of Valley Stream, was sentenced Wednesday to serve 4 months behind bars by Manhattan U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein on his 2017 guilty plea to bribery, conspiracy and making false statements. He was ordered to surrender to begin serving his time in August.
The ex-cop, a supervisor in the NYPD’s licensing division, was accused of taking payoffs from lawyers and “expediters” in return for speeding up approvals or helping individuals keep gun licenses when their fitness was in question, and at times calling in favors from counterparts in Nassau County’s licensing division.
Prosecutors said he got more than $20,000 over four years, as well as free vacations and expensive gifts, and lied to FBI agents, but after agreeing to cooperate, helped build a half-dozen cases against license fixers and other cops, including licensing lawyer John Chambers and ex-NYPD Lt. Paul Dean.
Under advisory federal sentencing guidelines, Villanueva faced a recommended imprisonment of 57 to 71 months. But in a letter to Stein, the government praised him as an “exemplary cooperator” who was “genuinely remorseful” and “extraordinarily effective,” urging the judge to give him “significant credit.”
Villanueva, in court papers, asked for a noncustodial sentence. His lawyer declined to comment Thursday on the four-month term.