What to Know
- A former NYPD Vice detective was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty for his role in running a prostitution ring, prosecutors said
- Former Brooklyn South Vice Detective Rene Samaniego was fired immediately after pleading guilty in May of attempted enterprise corruption
- Samaniego, 44, was sentenced to up to six years in prison
A former NYPD Vice detective was sentenced to prison after pleading guilty for his role in running a prostitution ring, prosecutors said.
Former Brooklyn South Vice Detective Rene Samaniego, who was fired immediately after pleading guilty in May to two counts of attempted enterprise corruption, was sentenced two to six years in prison, Queens Acting District Attorney John M. Ryan and NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill jointly announced Wednesday.
Samaniego, 44, assisted in operating a complex prostitution ring and gambling enterprise that included several brothels in Queens, Brooklyn and Nassau County and numerous gambling rooms set up in beauty salons and other businesses, prosecutors say, adding that the illicit businesses raked in millions of dollars between August 2016 and September 2018.
According to the charges, an investigation began in April 2015, with an anonymous tip to the Internal Affairs Bureau of the NYPD, prosecutors said. That tip alleged that some police officers - including active duty and retired personnel - were part of an illegal operation.
Prosecutors said that Samaniego worked closely with the boss of the operation providing him with intel on police procedures, scheduled raids and other information that kept the brothels open and raking in money.
Samaniego disclosed detailed descriptions of undercover officers - including what they were wearing, their exact location and when they were conducting an undercover operation and approaching a brothel – putting the undercover officers at risk, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say the intel on vice procedures enabled the brothels’ manager to set up protocols for new clients that would weed out undercover detectives.
Prosecutors say that as many as eight brothels operated in various locations, including at Liberty and Onderdonk Avenues in Queens; on Gates, Foster and Fourth Avenues and 42nd Street in Brooklyn and another location on Front Street in Hempstead, Long Island.
The prostitution ring alone is alleged to have produced more than $2 million in profits in 13 months using online ads to attract customers.
Additionally, prosecutors say illegal lotteries were set up in various businesses – including a deli and beauty salon, among other locations. These establishments included managers, runners and agents with working offices where bets were placed on legal lotteries, according to prosecutors.
“This defendant took an oath to protect and serve when he joined the NYPD. Instead, sadly, he chose greed over honor. He tarnished the badge he wore to line his pockets with cash. The defendant pleaded guilty for his role in pushing both prostitution and illegal gambling in our fine borough. For this, he will go to prison,” Ryan said in a statement.
O’Neill shared similar sentiments saying: “This officer diminished the work of tens of thousands of other honest and ethical cops. We depend on the trust we build with the people who live and work in our neighborhoods. Whenever an officer betrays that trust by engaging in criminal behavior, it tarnishes the shields they wear. This police department will never tolerate this, and neither will the people we serve.”