Seven NYPD cops indicted for operating a prostitution ring for more than a year appeared in court on Thursday as prosecutors accused them of having sex on the job while visiting the brothels they allegedly ran.
Forty-nine people in total were charged as part of the investigation.
They include active duty cops Rene Samaniego, 43, Sergeant Carlos Cruz, 41, Giovanny Rojas Acosta, 40, Sergeants Cliff Nieves, 37, Steven Nieves, 32, Giancarlo Raspanti and Sergeant Louis Failla who all appeared at Queens Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The men are accused of not only helping alleged ringleader Ludwig Paz, 51, operate the ring with his wife, but some are said to have engaged the prostitutes while on duty.
Giancarlo Raspanti (left) and Vice detective Rene Samaniego (right) appear in court in Queens on Thursday charged with assisting and operating a prostitution ring between 2016 and 2017
Sgt. Carlos Cruz (left) and Sgt. Louis Failla (right) appear in court on Thursday
Brothers Cliff Nieves (left) and Steven Nieves (right) were also charged in the investigation
Giovanny Rojas was not pictured at court but he is another cop allegedly involved
Prosecutors said in an indictment on Thursday that Ludwig, a retired Vice detective, paid them for inside information in discounts at seven of the eight brothels that were part of the operation in Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island.
Paz’s wife Arelis Peralta has also been charged.
She appeared in court with their children yesterday but her husband was not pictured.
The Queens District Attorney says the criminal operation, which also included gambling rooms and an illegal lottery syndicate, raked in $2million between 2016 and 2017.
Paz allegedly used his police knowledge to evade detection by making sure any new clients who visited the brothel took off their clothes before they got inside, ruling out the chance that any undercover cops had come because police officers are not allowed to expose their genitals when dealing with prostitutes while on duty.
He also, it is alleged, paid active duty cops for information so he was able to avoid being raided.
The investigation began in September 2015 after NYPD detectives received a tip-off about an operation.
Over the course of two years, they used wire taps to monitor the group and dismantle the operation.
Retired Vice detective Ludwig Paz, 51, and his wife Arelis Peralta are the alleged ringleaders
Some of the 40 civilians who were also charged are pictured at court
The couple’s children were also charged and are pictured leaving court with with jackets covering their faces
According to police, Peralta and her husband also operated illegal lottery betting services out of beauty salons
The couple are said to have made $2million from the scheme over a year. They are pictured on a tropical vacation
Paz and his wife have enjoyed a lavish lifestyle over the last several years.
Social media photographs show them on South American vacations and in nightclubs surrounded by bottles of champagne.
Paz, Samaniego, Cruz and Rojas Acosta were all charged with enterprise corruption.
The Nieves brothers were charged with promoting prostitution and operating a brothel for the sole purpose of hosting a bachelor party.
Raspanti is accused of providing Paz with confidential police information in exchange for discounted sex at a brothel, and Failla is charged in connection with allegedly assisting Paz following a brothel raid.
Peralta is charged with enterprise corruption, fifth-degree conspiracy and first-degree promoting gambling.
Police say Paz used his knowledge of the police force to stop raids and even paid active duty cops in discounts at the brothels for inside information
The couple, who have two children, ran seven of the eight brothels, according to police
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said: ‘The vast majority of NYPD police officers are honest and dedicated to enforcing and upholding the law.
‘However, today’s indictments of one former detective and seven current police officers of the NYPD dishonor the badge.
‘The main culprit in this case – a retired detective – allegedly used his knowledge of the inner workings of the New York City Police Department to run a string of brothels in Queens, Brooklyn and Hempstead, Long Island.
‘These operations stop today.’
Police Commissioner O’Neill added: ‘These NYPD officers, who swore an oath to uphold ideals greater than themselves, have ruined their own careers and reputations.
‘More importantly, they have diminished the great work of tens of thousands of other honest and ethical cops.’