The ongoing federal investigation into corruption in the NYPD expanded this week, as the chief financial officer of an Orthodox volunteer security force was arrested Sunday. He is accused of bribing officers in the NYPD’s Licensing Division to exchange for handgun permits. The mayor’s office has frozen two City Council grants, totaling $35,000, allocated to the organization.
The grants were issued last summer by Brooklyn Councilmen David Greenfield and Chaim Deutsch, and were intended to “defray” the cost of new radios and uniforms for the Shmira Civilian Volunteer Patrol of Boro Park.
According to Politico New York, City Hall had not yet finalized the earmarks. It will wait to do so “until relevant facts are determined to ensure Shmira Civilian Volunteer Patrol of Boro Park Inc. is a responsible vendor,” said mayoral spokeswoman Karen Hinton.
A City Councilman from 2002 to 2010, de Blasio’s old district includes Borough Park. In 2009 and 2010, public records show, he allocated two $10,000 grants to Shmira. (Shmira’s tax returns from 2006 and 2007 indicate that it received $50,000 and $35,000 in government contributions in those years, respectively. It eventually lost its tax-exempt status, which was later reinstated.) From Politico:
A review of public documents show the Boro Park, Brooklyn branch of Shmira, a volunteer security force, has received nine city contracts totaling $425,708 from the 2010 to 2015 fiscal years, which span the Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations.
Eight of the contracts were with the Department of Youth and Community Development and one was for $197,208 with the city’s Department of Design and Construction for vehicles for the patrol force.
Alex Lichtenstein, whom the city’s database lists as the chief financial officer of the Shmira Civilian Volunteer Patrol of Boro Park Inc., is charged with bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery. It’s unclear whether the mayor ever dealt with Lichtenstein directly.
The complaint describes a sting operation in which Lichtenstein offers an NYPD officer, secretly recording the conversation, $6,000 per pistol license the officer can help him obtain. (Shomrim are supposedly unarmed.) Lichtenstein allegedly estimated that he’d already obtained 150 licenses this way in the last year.