Seven NYPD cops are facing charges for hiring hookers while on duty from a brothel run by NYPD ex-vice detective Ludwig Paz and his wife Arelis Peralta.
In return for tipping Paz off on “active and ongoing” investigations, Paz made sure these cops were charged much less by their hookers.
Here’s what you need to know:
1.Ludwig Paz and Arelis Peralta Started Running Brothels in Queens, Brooklyn and Hempstead After He Retired From The NYPD in 2010
After retiring in 2010 from his job as a vice detective with the NYPD, Ludwig Paz and his wife Arelis Peralta started overseeing brothels in Queens, Brooklyn and Hempstead.
During an investigation, authorities found that the couple made $2 million between August 2016 and September 2017.
According to Chief Reznick, Paz “familiarized himself with the operation of gambling and prostitution” while active in the NYPD and for some reason was attracted to “that kind of work” once he left.
2. Paz and Peralta Also Ran Illegal Lottery Operations Inside Two Beauty Salons And a Restaurant
Alongside their brothels, Paz and Peralta ran two illegal lottery operations out of beauty salons and another inside a deli-style restaurant.
The brothels and gambling operations where a “family affair.” Investigators found that Peralta’s two daughters, Arisbel and Jarelis Guzman were also involved, one allegedly working as a “runner” who collected gambling proceeds and another who “helped in whatever way her family needed,” Queens Assistant District Attorney Bradley Chain reported.
3. An Investigation Began in 2015 After a Tip Came From Inside The Force; “Operation Zap” Has Taken Three Years to Close
“The investigation of Paz, his alleged NYPD accomplices and nearly three dozen civilian co-defendants — dubbed “Operation Zap” — took more than three years due to its highly sensitive nature,” IAB Chief Joseph Reznick reported.
During a news conference, Reznick explained how it was a slow process that began three years ago in April 2015 after an NYPD officer tipped off internal affairs saying that “someone who may be involved in illegal activities was having conversations with someone in the Vice Enforcement Division.”
Because the division didn’t know who to trust, the work was tedious. “Any leaks about our cases could have [had] detrimental effects,” said Reznick.
50 wiretaps, 100 surveillance operations and maybe as many undercover operations took place in that three year span until NYPD investigators had enough to present the cops they suspected were involved, with charges.
4. Seven Cops Are Facing Charges, Including Paz’s Former Boss Who Gave Paz a 5.0 on His Annual Performance Review While With The NYPD
“No one gets a 5, not even the inside people,” Chain reported.
Police have released the identities of some of the cops and ex-cops busted in the sting.
Sgt. Louis Failla was one of the men caught being serviced at Paz’s brothels. Failla was Paz’s boss in the Vice Enforcement Division. Just a year before Paz retired, Failla gave him a 5.0 on his annual NYPD performance review. That raised some eyebrows.
Paz allegedly paid Brooklyn South Vice Detective Rene Samaniego around $500 a week to act as his “primary informant,” reported Chain. None of Paz’s brothels were subjected to raids because of this informant and Paz was tipped off on all investigations that might affect him.
“Samaniego’s info included what officers were coming at what time, what they were wearing, where they were coming from” wrote Chain. When one of the hookers working for Paz was picked up by police, Paz was tipped off and able to coach the woman’s pimp on what to say to keep the police from pressing charges and exposing the brothel.
Sgt. Carlos Cruz and Officer Giancarlo Raspanti searched NYPD databases to help Paz stay out of trouble. The men also frequently visited Paz’s brothels where they were only required to pay a woman $20 for sex—a thank you for the information they provided Paz.
5. Paz Had a Special Way of Knowing Who he Could Trust
“This conduct is egregious. It is far beyond any of the other officers who were charged here today,” said Chain.
Paz had a way of protecting himself when cops came to visit his brothels. Since he was once a cop himself, he put his visitors through a test when they showed up to be serviced. “He made sure all prospective johns dropped their pants and got groped — to prove they weren’t undercover officers,” investigators reported.
Paz knows that a cop cannot expose himself to prostitutes while undercover, so if he was aware of a cop entering his brother, he had them undress and they had to “allow themselves to be fondled,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill assured the public the officers involved would be dealt with quickly and severely and that they “tarnished the NYPD shields that they wore” bringing shame on “the great work of tens of thousands of honest, honorable and ethical cops.”
“I’m angry, as are all 36,000 hardworking cops,” said O’Neill.
The cops arrested in the sting were released without bail, as were Peralta’s daughters, all pleading “not guilty” in Queens Supreme Court.
Paz and Peralta remain in custody on a $525,000 and $150,000 bail.