MANHATTAN FEDERAL COURT — The Brooklyn businessman charged with bribing NYPD officials to obtain gun licenses choked back tears as he confessed to the crime Thursday.
“I gave police officers in the licensing division things of value, including money, knowing that for giving those things, the officers would give me favors,” Alex Lichtenstein, 44, said.
Lichtenstein, wearing a charcoal-gray suit and a yarmulke, pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges. As part of his plea, he is expected be sentenced to 57-71 months in prison, though Judge Sidney Stein could sentence him to 20 years instead.
Lichtenstein — a member of Shomrim, the Orthodox Jewish crime-prevention group in Borough Park — approached an NYPD officer in April and offered thousands of dollars in cash bribes to secure gun licenses for associates, federal prosecutors said.
The officer refused and reported the exchange to the Internal Affairs Bureau.
The policeman later secretly recorded a conversation with Lichtenstein in which he boasted about obtaining gun licenses for about 150 friends dating back to 2013.
“When you did these acts, sir, did you know what you were doing was wrong and illegal?” Stein asked.
“Yes,” Lichtenstein replied.
Lichtenstein had previously been arrested for forgery and had been involved in a slew of car accidents, prosecutors said.
His claims were another black eye for the NYPD in the ongoing corruption probe focusing on high-ranking police officials and Brooklyn businessmen Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg, who prosecutors say provided gifts in exchange for favors.
“Corruption in any part of government cuts at the very fabric of our society,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “But it is particularly damaging when it undermines public safety.”
As part of the agreement, Lichtenstein could pay up to $500,000 in fines.
He nodded his head and thanked his roughly 15 supporters as he left the courtroom Thursday.
His sentencing is scheduled for March 16.