A federal judge in Manhattan sentenced the former head of NYPD’s gun licensing division, who took part in a wide-ranging bribery scandal and ended up ratting on other officers, to four months in prison
The US Attorney’s office in Manhattan advocated for David Villanueva, a star witness in two trials centering on kickbacks paid to NYPD officers, to walk free with time served. But the judge presiding over Villanueva’s case called him a “corrupt cop” who brought shame to the department and deserves prison time.
“You dishonored the badge. You dishonored the force,” said District Judge Sidney Stein.
Villanueva was part of a group of officers in the licensing division caught taking bribes from so-called “expediters” to fast-track gun-possession permits — and at times put them in the hands of violent felons who aren’t supposed to be armed in the first place.
Villanueva ended up testifying in trials for John Chambers, a self-proclaimed “gun attorney to the stars” who bribed Villanueva with lavish gifts that included an $8,500 watch, tickets to Broadway shows and dinners; and for former NYPD officer James Grant and City Hall fundraiser Jeremy Reichberg, who were tried together.
Chambers was convicted and sentenced to a year in prison. Grant was acquitted on the charges against him, while Reichberg, who was convicted of bribing NYPD officers for gun permits and various other special favors, was sentenced to four years in prison.
At Villanueva’s sentencing, Assistant US Attorney Paul Monteleone said that Villanueva was key in bringing down Chambers and Paul Dean, a former lieutenant and second-in-command for the licensing division who got 18 months for participating in the bribery scandal.
While asking Stein to spare him from jail, Villanueva explained that he fell in with a bad element when he joined the licensing division and became consumed with greed.
“I allowed myself to become a corrupt cop,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva and his lawyer declined to comment following the sentencing. He is ordered to surrender to authorities on Aug. 19.
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