MANHATTAN — A Brooklyn businessman who bribed NYPD officers in exchange for expediting gun licenses for clients was sentenced to nearly three years in prison Thursday.
Alex "Shaya" Lichtenstein, 45, had pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges after paying tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes since 2013 to Sergeant David Villanueva in the licensing division, who then shared some of the money with Officer Richard Ochetal.
“By engaging in an egregious scheme to trade cash for gun licenses, Alex Lichtenstein and his co-defendants in the New York City Police Department corrupted the sensitive process of evaluating gun license applications in New York City,” acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said.
“Today’s sentence shows that individuals who so brazenly abuse the public’s trust in law enforcement — whether they are the officers receiving bribes or the citizens paying them — will be held to account for their crimes.”
Lichtenstein — who served as the leader of the Borough Park neighborhood patrol, Shomrim — made off with between $150,000 to $250,000 from his clients, some of whom had criminal convictions and a history of domestic violence.
He was finally banned from the licensing division in 2016 after rumors spread about his client fees and he then tried to bribe another officer who recorded the Brooklyn businessman offering a $6,000 bribe.
Lichtenstein was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and was ordered to forfeit $230,000.
Ochetal pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and is cooperating with the government in the case.
Villanueva pleaded not guilty.