Ex-NYPD LT. from Wantagh pleads guilty in gun-license scheme


Paul Dean, 44, of Wantagh, a retired NYPD lieutenant, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery last week for his role in approving gun licenses in exchange for gifts, officials at the U.S. Attorney's Office announced on Aug. 16.

Dean accepted cash, alcohol, vacations, prostitutes, and other non-monetary bribes for approving gun licenses from the NYPD License Division – an office he oversaw from 2014 until he retired in 2016, according to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, Geoffrey Berman.

According to the federal complaint, Dean was expediting certain applications for gun licenses and approving applications for people with violent criminal backgrounds, in exchange for bribes. His co-conspirator in the scheme, Robert Espinel of Seaford, pled guilty last year as part of a cooperation agreement with authorities for a more lenient sentence. Espinal was assigned to the License Division from 2011 to 2016.

Gaetano Valastro, of Queens, a retired NYPD detective and the owner of a gun shop was one of at least three gun-license expediters who participated in the scheme.

“Paul Dean betrayed his duty as a former leader within the New York City Police Department to protect and serve the public,” Berman said. “Instead of assuring the integrity of the License Division he oversaw – a division charged with protecting the public safety by restricting access to firearms – he sought to corrupt it by bribing the very officers once under his command.”

Dean, second in command of the License Division, worked in the division from 2008 to 2016, and was a NYPD officer since 1994. Espinel and Valastro retired from the department in 2016 and 1999, respectively.

Dean and Espinel retired because they wanted to go into the expediting business, according to court records. According to the prosecutors, both men felt like they did the work approving applicants and were “dissatisfied with the fact that private gun expediters were profiting thousands of dollars per gun license applicant.”

Dean could face a maximum of five years in prison. His sentencing is set for Nov. 15.