QUEENS — An NYPD lieutenant and a detective took bribes from the owners of Queens karaoke clubs in exchange for tipping them off to police raids and protecting their customers from being arrested for using drugs, DNAinfo New York has learned.
Lt. Robert Sung, 50, and Detective Yatyu Yam, 37, are accused of intervening on several occasions when drug-using clubgoers were arrested by fellow officers at the nightclubs they were protecting, according to court documents and sources.
The two officers allegedly convinced their colleagues to either take the handcuffs off their suspects and turn them loose, or at least to issue desk appearance tickets rather than haul them off to jail, according to court records and law enforcement sources.
Sources said that as many as nine other officers from the 109th Precinct in Flushing have been stripped of their guns and badges and have been suspended and/or placed on modified duty.
Several officers could face criminal and/or departmental charges as a result of a two-and-one-half-year investigation by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown into alleged corruption at the precinct.
Several officers are said to be cooperating in the investigation, according to sources.
Yam, a 10-year veteran, was arraigned late Monday night on charges of second-degree bribe receiving, second-degree receiving rewards for official misconduct and official misconduct. He allegedly collected tens of thousands of dollars in payoffs and was freed on $25,000 bail, according to court records.
Sources say Lt. Sung, a 20-plus-year veteran, surrendered Tuesday and was awaiting arraignment.
Both officers face up to 15 years in prison if convicted. They have been suspended from the force, sources say.
The criminal complaint against Yam alleges he was in bed with the owners of as many as eight popular karaoke bars in Flushing. Details about Lt. Sung's alleged criminality were not immediately available as he had not yet been arraigned.
Yam is suspected of being so close to one of the owners of two nightspots that the owner was invited to a backyard barbecue at the detective's home, where he gave the officer a monthly $2,000 payoff for protecting his karaoke clubs, according to the complaint.
Yam started taking money as far back as December 2013 when he allegedly approached the owner of Club JJNY at 147-38 Northern Blvd. and offered to tip off the manager to police activities involving the club, where police suspect a variety drugs were being used, court documents claim.
“[Yam] told the club manager that if he got paid under the table, he would notify the club manager if narcotic or vice units scheduled police raids” at the club, according to the criminal court complaint.
On Aug. 30, 2014, police conducted an “inspection” of the club, arrested four clubgoers on drug possession charges and suddenly received a call from Yam, who wanted to know “what they were doing at the club” and then convinced them to free the suspects.
The complaint also details several incidents when Yam tipped off owners about possible raids and other police activity.
It includes an incident in September 2014 when a club manager — while attending a police officer’s birthday party — was allegedly given confidential information about an upcoming inspection by Sung.
Yam even used WeChat to communicate with the bar owners, according to the complaint.
Additional nightclubs suspected of paying Yam include Babyface, Flower, and Joyful, according to the complaint.