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NYPD Investigates, Suspends Gun Licenses Amid Corruption Probe

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- In the latest twist in the NYPD corruption probe, questions were being raised over dozens of gun licenses Tuesday.

As CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported, a middleman accused of offering payoffs for licenses could lead to the seizure of hundreds of guns.

The federal corruption investigation has already led the department to prepare to pull potentially hundreds of guns off the streets. They are guns owned by people who got their weapons license through one man – Alex "Shaya" Lichtenstein.

Alex "Shaya" Lichtenstein
Alex "Shaya" Lichtenstein (seen with cigarette) is charged with bribing police officers to issue gun permits without proper background checks. (Credit: CBS2)

Lichtenstein, 44, has been charged with bribing police to give him gun permits without doing background checks or providing justification for owning a gun.

"The scope of the investigation is certainly on allegations of criminal wrongdoing and licenses that may have been issued as part of a criminal conspiracy," said police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

According to a criminal complaint, Lichtenstein offered to pay police $6,000 for each license, which he would then allegedly resell for $18,000.

Police tracked down some gun owners who were believed to have done business with Lichtenstein. The NYPD matched the gun owner sup with licenses issued by three NYPD officers from the Licensing Division who were allegedly involved.

"That investigation, out of all of that, is focused on about 246 particular licenses at this time," Bratton said.

The NYPD sent the gun owners a letter telling them their licenses were suspended for a pending police investigation, and to surrender any and all firearms to police pending the conclusion of their investigation.

Six guns and licenses have already been revoked, and 11 more revocations are expected this week. Bratton said the revocations were only based on insufficient paperwork and not on criminality.

"We are also going to work very hard to improve our administrative practices on this issue that the department treats very seriously, and this city treats very seriously, and the state treats very seriously," Bratton said.

Bratton has assigned an inspector from the Internal Affairs Bureau to head the NYPD investigation.

The NYPD said an officer will make a home visit to any gun owner who does not respond to the department letter to surrender their gun and license.

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