New York, NY – Two weeks after wide scale NYPD corruption investigations revealed that three officers from the gun licensing division were reassigned for accepting bribes in exchange for gun permits, the city’s public advocate is calling on Mayor de Blasio to suspend all the permits in question and to force those gun holders to surrender their weapons to police.
As previously reported on TOT News, Deputy Inspector Michael Endall, Sergeant David Villanueva and Police Officer Richard Ochetal have been accused of accepting money from Shaya Lichtenstein in return for gun permits.
Lichtenstein is said to have paid $6,000 for 150 permits which he then resold for $18,000 each.
Lichtenstein reportedly skipped the required background checks on the purchasers, enabling him to issue permits in just three or four weeks. Typically it takes a full year to obtain a gun permit in New York City.
According to The Daily News, Letitia James expressed concern that the Shaya Lichtenstein gun permits pose a risk to New York City residents and asked the mayor to take decisive action.
At least one permit issued by Lichtenstein went to an individual with an extensive criminal record.
“I am gravely concerned that the NYPD may have issued handgun permits to people with a history of violence or who otherwise should not be eligible to carry weapons,” wrote James in a letter to the mayor dated April 21.
Currently, the NYPD is reviewing each of the permits issued by Ochetal and Villanueva on a case by case basis, sending a letter to each of the gun holders in question informing them that they must hand in their weapons at their local precinct.
“They’ve been reviewing the licenses,” said NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis.
“Any filing where they find issues they conduct a full review. The license is temporarily revoked. The gun gets taken away.”
Police are also allowing gun holders with the questionable permits to sell their firearms to a legitimate buyer, pending NYPD approval.
All other guns will be held by the NYPD while the permit applications are being reviewed.
Attorney John Chambers, who specializes in gun licensing, said that Lichtenstein was able to secure gun permits even for those who had a history of prior arrests and would have been denied permits had they gone the normal route.
Chambers said that he had been contacted by 20 people who had gotten their permits through Lichtenstein who had legitimate reasons to carry firearms, including those who carry diamonds or substantial amounts of cash.
He noted that making everyone who got a permit through Lichtenstein surrender their weapon may be unjust and that legal action may be forthcoming.
“It seems unfair because they did nothing wrong,” said Chambers.
“They will have the opportunity to fight the suspension. We are contemplating litigation.