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New Boss of NYPD's Scandal-Scarred License Division Suddenly Quits

 NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton on Feb. 23, 2016.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton on Feb. 23, 2016.
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DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

NEW YORK — The top-ranking NYPD official handpicked by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to clean up the scandal-scarred License Division has abruptly quit the force, DNAinfo New York has learned.

Inspector Terence Moore, a 31-year veteran from the Internal Affairs Bureau, was appointed the head of the department’s License Division just two weeks ago after it was rocked by a corruption scandal that centered on a Brooklyn businessman arrested by the feds for allegedly bribing officers to get gun permits for his friends and clients.

READ MORE: Brooklyn Businessman Bribed NYPD Officials for Gun Permits, Feds Say

But Moore last Friday suddenly handed in his retirement papers, then returned to his first floor office to thank his staff for their cooperation during his handful of days in charge of the unit. He then cleaned out his office and left Police Headquarters.

“He called his staff in and thanked them for making his short stay there a pleasant one,” a source told DNAinfo New York's “On the Inside.”  “Monday morning his office was empty, all his things were already packed up and moved out.”

After departing One Police Plaza, Moore told acquaintances that his decision was for undisclosed “personal reasons,” another source said.

But another source noted, "Even for a career IAB boss, the mess at License Division seemed too much and he did not have enough tools to deal with it."

A department spokesman said Moore was picked because of his experience dealing with the feds, but he pulled the plug when he realized that a top-to-bottom revamping of the unit would take at least a year, apparently longer than he planned to remain on the force.

No one could say why he did not give more notice, and it was not clear who would replace Moore.

"It will be someone with more time to go on their career," an official said.

Moore was chosen to clean up the License Division after U.S. Attorney Preet Bharaa accused businessman Shaya Lichtenstein, 44, with paying up to $6,000 to officers for a gun permit for his clients.

Lichtenstein was secretly recorded bragging about bribing officers inside the division when he approached yet another officer for help.

But that officer notified Internal Affairs and wore a recording device to his meetings, capturing Lichtenstein saying his access to his other sources was drying up and he needed someone else to help — offering the $6,000 bribe for help.

DNAinfo New York reported last week how officers at the License Division used to open its door before regular business hours to meet secretly with Lichtenstein, who claimed he was getting up to $16,000 from his clients for his help.

READ MORE: Police Met Secretly With Accused Gun License Briber at NYPD HQ, Sources Say

The NYPD is reviewing all permits given to people connected to Lichtenstein, and has ordered three dozen so far to return their weapons until the review is complete.

Two officers from the division, Sgt David Villaneuva and Officer Richard Ochetal, have been placed on desk duty by Commissioner Bratton.

READ MORE: Who’s Who in the Federal NYPD/City Hall Corruption Probe

The bombshell allegation involving the License Division was part of a burgeoning pay-for-play, influence-peddling scandal involving NYPD brass and City Hall that began two years ago with a federal investigation of then Chief of Department Philip Banks and his close ties to two other businessmen, Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg.

READ MORE: Here's What We Know About the Probe Into Mayor Bill de Blasio's Fundraising

Meanwhile, the investigation has led to the transfer of as many as nine top-ranking police officials, and the subpoenaing of several of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s closest aides involved in his various fundraising efforts.

Last Friday, inspector Michael Ameri, who was questioned in March by the FBI, committed suicide just two days after records from his office were seized by Internal Affairs. He was not a target of the probe, however.

An NYPD spokesman did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.