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Crooked cop in NYPD’s gun License Division sentenced to 1 year in prison

2019-06-13

Robert Espinel leaves federal court after being presented in federal court on April 25, 2017 in New York. (Alec Tabak/for New York Daily News)

A crooked cop in the NYPD’s corrupt License Division tearfully apologized to the police department Friday before being sentenced to one year and one day in prison for bribery conspiracy.

Ex-officer Robert Espinel’s scheme accepting gifts and money to push through city firearm permits was so successful he planned in late 2015 to retire and continue the work in private practice by bribing his former colleagues.

He accepted free meals and liquor from gun license holders and the so-called expediters who represented them.

“I’m sorry I harmed the reputation of the NYPD,” Espinel said in Manhattan Federal Court, crying. “I feel ashamed. I hate that I have damaged the trust of the community I served for over 20 years. I’m afraid I may never restore my family’s pride in me, nor my pride in myself.”

Prosecutors said that Espinel, 49, was in cahoots with former Lt. Paul Dean, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Judge Edgardo Ramos, who sentenced both men, said the License Division had become “infested throughout with corruption.”

Espinel and Dean had told their colleagues in the License Division that they would be more trustworthy than the sleazy cast of expediters, including a former Brooklyn prosecutor and Shomrim patrol leader, plying cops with gifts.

After his arrest, Dean told the FBI about special treatment for VIPs seeking gun licenses like President Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Michael Cohen and many others.

The probe of the License Division also intersected with the gifts-for-favors scandal that rocked the highest levels of the police department. Brooklyn businessman Jeremy Reichberg used his access at 1 Police Plaza to obtain a gun permit despite his lack of qualifications.

“We hold police officers to a much higher standard. We also endow them with great powers. It is imperative for the public to know police officers, to whom we endow such powers, are conducting themselves with integrity,” Ramos said.

The NYPD says it has taken steps to overhaul the License Division and prevent corruption.