PROSTITUTION RING BUSTED: POLICE ARRESTED

A prostitution and gambling ring was busted in Brooklyn and Queens. The three-year investigation resulted in the arrest of seven NYPD officers. Two other officers were stripped of their guns and shields. We have the details on the case rocking 1 Police Plaza.

Aired on September 17, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

> SO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN POLICE OFFICERS WHO ARE SWORN TO UPHOLD THE LAW ALLEGEDLY BREAK IT?

LAST WEEK, SEVEN NYPD OFFICERS WERE ARRESTED AS A RESULT OF A THREE-YEAR INVESTIGATION INTO A MULTIMILLION DOLLAR PROSTITUTION AND GAMBLING RING.

THE OPERATION RAN THROUGH BROOKLYN, QUEENS, AND LONG ISLAND.

ACCORDING TO INVESTIGATORS, WAS MASTERMINDED BY ONE MAN, RETIRED NYPD VICE DETECTIVE LUDWIG PAZ.

A 20-YEAR VETERAN OF THE NYPD, ALONG WITH HIS WIFE.

HERE WITH THE DETILES IS 'NEW YORK TIMES' MICHAEL WILSON.

NICE TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

THANK YOU.

BEFORE WE GET TO THE PERSONALITIES INVOLVED, LET'S START OFF WITH HOW THIS INVESTIGATION GOT STARTED.

THIS CASE BEGINS WITH A TIP FROM WITHIN THE POLICE DEPARTMENT.

A POLICE OFFICER CALLED THE INTERNAL AFFAIRS BUREAU AND REPORTED THIS ILLEGAL ACTIVITY GOING ON.

AND THE INTERNAL AFFAIRS SET UP AN INVESTIGATION.

THERE WAS SURVEILLANCE, A LOT OF WIRETAPS, THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF HOURS OF WIRETAPS, AND THEY FOLLOWED THE PEOPLE AROUND, JUST TO FIGURE OUT WHO IS DOING WHAT, WHAT IS THE STRUCTURE AND SCOPE AND SCALE OF THIS THING.

AND THREE YEARS LATER, THEY RAIDED SIMULTANEOUSLY SEVEN OR EIGHT BROTHELS IN THREE COUNTIES, BROOKLYN, QUEENS, AND NASSAU.

GIVE US A SENSE OF THE CONTOURS OF THE PROSTITUTION RINGS AND THE GAMBLING RINGS.

THE MAJOR OPERATION WAS THE PROSTITUTION.

THAT'S WHERE THEY TOOK IN $2 MILLION IN THE COURSE OF A YEAR LAST YEAR.

THE GAMBLING WAS KIND OF A TRADITIONAL NUMBERS OPERATION, WHERE YOU ARE TAKING BETS FROM THE COMMUNITY.

IT'S A MONEY MAKER, BUT NOT LIKE THE PROSTITUTION.

AND IT'S ALL MASTERMINDED, ALLEGEDLY, BY A RETIRED DETECTIVE.

TALK ABOUT HIM.

LUDWIG PAZ DID HIS 20 AND OUT, WHICH IS AS SOME OFFICERS DO.

HE RETIRED IN 2010.

AND THE POLICE SAY THAT STARTING THEN, OR EVEN SOONER, HE WAS INVOLVED IN THIS PROSTITUTION BUSINESS.

NOW, HE WAS A VICE OFFICER, SO THAT WAS HIS ENTREE, INTRODUCTION INTO THIS WORLD.

SO HE KNOWS THE LANDSCAPE.

HE KNOWS THE LANDSCAPE.

HE KNOWS HOW THE GAME IS PLAYED.

HE KNOWS THE OTHER SIDE.

HE KNOWS HOW POLICE INVESTIGATE THESE.

AND THEY COULD USE THAT KNOWLEDGE TO AVOID DETECTION, WHICH HE DID FOR MULTIPLE YEARS.

HOW ABOUT THE OTHER POLICE OFFICERS WHO HAVE BEEN ARRESTED, WHAT ARE THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST THEM AND WHAT WERE THEIR ROLES IN THIS OPERATION?

THEY VARIED.

ALL THE WAY FROM DOORMEN, ACCEPTING CASH OUTSIDE AN APARTMENT BUILDING WHERE THERE WAS A BROTHEL INSIDE, TO ARRESTING COMPETING PROSTITUTION OPERATIONS.

THESE GUYS WOULD BREAK UP THE COMPETITION, LOCK THEM UP.

TO MOST NOTORIOUSLY, TIPPING OFF PAZ TO A POLICE INVESTIGATION COMING THEIR WAY, UP TO AND INCLUDING CALLING HIM AND DESCRIBING, AND THIS IS BEYOND TABU IN LAW ENFORCEMENT CIRCLES, PHYSICALLY DESCRIBING AN UNDERCOVER OFFICER WHO IS COMING TO A BROTHEL IN THE COURSE OF AN INVESTIGATION.

YOU ARE NOW OUT THING GUY.

NO ONE WAS HURT OR INJURED IN THAT REGARD, BUT THAT REALLY SEEMED TO PERSONALLY OFFEND A LOT OF THE POLICE OFFICERS.

SOME OF THE METHODS THAT ARE ALLEGED HERE THAT THE RINGLEADER USED TO PROTECT AGAINST UNDERCOVER OPERATIVES COMING INTO THE SITUATION, JUST GIVE ME A SENSE OF SOME OF THE THINGS THEY ARE ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN DOING.

THE ONE THAT IS THE MOST COLORFUL AND GRAPHIC.

POLICE OFFICERS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO EXPOS THEMSELVES WHILE INTERACTING WITH A PROSTITUTE.

WHILE UNDERCOVER.

YEAH.

SO FORMER DETECTIVE PAZ KNEW THIS, SO HE SET UP THE FIRST THING YOU HAD TO DO AS A CUSTOMER AT ONE OF HIS PLACES, WAS EXPOSE YOURSELF.

THAT WAS HIS LITMUS TEST.

EXACTLY.

SO A DETECTIVE MIGHT SAY, I DON'T WANT TO DO THAT, THAT'S WEIRD.

AND HE WOULD SAY, OUT.

HOW HAS THE TOP LEVEL OF THE NYPD RESPONDED TO THESE ALLEGATIONS?

COMMISSIONER O'NEIL WAS OPENLY ANGRY AT HIS PRESS APPEARANCES THE OTHER DAY WHEN THESE CHARGES WERE ANNOUNCED.

HE SAID EVERY MEMBER OF THIS POLICE DEPARTMENT, YOUR BADGE HAS BEEN TARNISHED BY THESE INDIVIDUALS, AND YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE ANGRY, AS WELL.

TO THEIR CREDIT, A LOT OF THESE TIMES, A LOT OF THESE KINDS OF CORRUPTION CASES COME FROM THE OUTSIDE.

LIKE A FEDERAL INVESTIGATION.

THIS CAME FROM WITHIN.

STARTING WITH THAT TIPSTER, THE POLICE OFFICER WHO BLEW THE WHISTLE.

THE POLICE DEPARTMENT IS REMINDING US THAT WE SOLVED OUR OWN PROBLEM FROM WITHIN.

AND SOMETIMES THE ALLEGATION AGAINST THE POLICE DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN, YOU CAN'T POLICE WITHIN YOUR OWN WALLS.

BUT THIS SEEMS TO BE A SITUATION WHERE THE NYPD SAYS WE ARE POLICING WITHIN OUR OWN WALLS ARE.

THEY ANTICIPATING ANY ADDITIONAL ARRESTS TO BE MADE, ESPECIALLY ANY OTHER POLICE OFFICERS?

WE'RE TOLD THEY'RE NOT ANTICIPATING ARRESTING ANY OTHER POLICE OFFICERS AT THIS TIME.

THEY ALWAYS SAY THAT COULD CHANGE BASED ON NEW INFORMATION.

BUT THEY HAVE THE SEVEN ACTIVE OFFICERS AND THE RETIRED PAZ.

MORE CIVILIANS I THINK ARE IN THE LINEUP FOR BEING ARRESTED.

I'M NOT SURE.

MIKE, A FASCINATING STORY.

EXTRAORDINARY INVESTIGATION, GREAT REPORTING BY YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES AT 'THE NEW YORK TIMES.'

WE'LL TALK AGAIN.

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