A federal judge on Friday sentenced a former NYPD gun licensing officer to one year and one day in prison for taking part in a scheme to fast-track applications for gun licenses in exchange for bribes that included booze and hookers.
Robert Espinel, 49, was part of a group of cops who worked in the department’s gun licensing division who were on the take from so-called “gun expeditors” who were able to get the officers to dole out licenses fast and sometimes getting the guns into the wrong hands.
At his sentencing hearing in Manhattan federal court, Espinel choked back tears while he read from a prepared statement, pausing at times to collect himself.
“I took a wrong turn,” he said. “I was irresponsible.”
But Circuit Judge Edgardo Ramos said that the licensing scandal undermined the public’s trust in the NYPD and may have made the streets less safe.
“Individuals who should have never been able to get their hands on guns were able to do so,” the judge said.
Prosecutors argued that Espinel should have received between 18 and 24 months in prison, while Espinel said he should have gotten off with probation.
Espinel declined to comment following the sentence. He will surrender for his sentence on June 28.
Also convicted as part of the bribery scheme was John Chambers, a self-proclaimed gun attorney to the stars who bribed David Villanueva, the former supervisor of the licensing division, with lavish gifts that included an $8,500 watch, tickets to Broadway shows and dinners.
Villanueva copped a plea deal with prosecutors and testified at Chambers’ trial, which was held last year.
Villanueva testified that one of the expeditors he took bribes from may have had ties to organized crime. He said he helped another get 100 gun permits over the years that should never have been approved.