Two members of the 109th Precinct Detective Squad found themselves in handcuffs Tuesday on charges that they allegedly accepted bribes from several local karaoke club owners to provide them with advance notice of police inspections.
Lt. Robert Sung and Det. Yatyu Yam were suspended without pay and arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on charges including receiving bribes and official misconduct levied following a two-year investigation by the Queens District Attorney’s office and the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau.
Since December 2013, prosecutors said, Sung and Yam perpetrated a grand bargain with three local club owners, accepting cash payments and other forms of bribery from them in order to tip them off to upcoming police raids or inspections. During the investigation, police learned that the owner of several Flushing karaoke clubs paid Yam $2,000 per month over a three-year period for advance warnings and police protection.
“Instead of upholding the law, the defendants are now charged with tarnishing their NYPD badges to unjustly enrich themselves,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement Tuesday night.
One of the illicit deals, authorities said, was struck with the owner/manager of Club JJNY, located at 147-38 Northern Blvd. The club is known to the department as a hotbed of illegal drug activity and local police officers are prohibited from frequenting the establishment.
According to the charges, Yam agreed to provide advance notice to the owner of any planned police inspections or raids in exchange for “under-the-table” payments.
When other police officers raided the club in August 2014 and handcuffed several patrons, authorities said, Yam instructed the officers to let the patrons go, allegedly saying that it was Sung’s “place.” One of the officers informed Sung of this and, according to the criminal complaint, the lieutenant expressed irritation that Yam made that statement to another officer.
In another instance, prosecutors said, an officer informed Sung that the precinct commander directed the officer to conduct raids at Club JJNY and other area establishments. Sung allegedly told the officer he would inform Club JJNY of the impending operation and directed the officer not to conduct a raid there.
Police said Yam also interfered with a raid at Club Joyful, another karaoke club located at 33-45 Linden Pl. Upon learning that arrests were made, Yam allegedly called one of the officers and instructed him to free the suspects and instead issue desk appearance tickets.
Additional charges are pending the results of an ongoing investigation.