An NYPD vice detective admitted to participating in a prolific prostitution ring and gambling enterprise throughout Queens, Brooklyn and Nassau County, prosecutors announced.
Detective Rene Samaniego, 44, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted enterprise corruption on May 8. He is due to return to court for sentencing on June 25, where a judge indicated that he would be sentenced to two to six years in prison.
“I have the utmost respect for the many fine NYPD officers working to protect and serve the residents and visitors of our beautiful city. Sadly, there are some who possess the badge and tarnish it,” said acting District Attorney John M. Ryan. “The defendant in this case used his position as a member of New York’s Finest to help run an illegal operation in three counties to line his pockets with easy cash. This kind of corruption will not be tolerated, and as a result of his actions, the defendant will now go to prison. This should be a warning to all criminals — including members of service — lawlessness will not be tolerated in New York City.”
According to charges, in April 2015 the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau received an anonymous tip that some active duty and retired police officers were taking part in a complex illegal operation. Through court-authorized wiretaps, surveillance and other investigative tools, investigators were able to identify the illegal network of brothels and those who were involved.
Samaniego worked closely with the alleged boss by providing him with intel on police procedures, scheduled raids and other vital information that kept the brothels open and in business. Charges indicated that Samaniego would disclose detailed descriptions of undercover officers — what they were wearing and their exact location when they were conducting an undercover operation and approaching a brothel — which greatly compromised the safety of the undercover officers.
With Sameniego’s intel on vice procedures, prosecutors said, this allowed the alleged brothel operators to weed out undercover detectives with new protocols in place for new clients. Knowing that police officers could not expose their genitals when interacting with prostitutes, new clients would be required to undress and allow themselves to be fondled before getting past security.
Two of the eight brothels in operation were located in Queens, on Liberty Avenue in Jamaica and on Onderdonk Avenue in Ridgewood. The others were located in Brooklyn and Hempstead, Long Island.
Prosecutors said the prostitution ring allegedly netted more than $2 million in 13 months using online ads to attract customers. After getting through the screening process, clients were given their choice of prostitutes and paid up to $40 for 15 minutes of sex play or up to $160 for a full hour.
The indictment says that there were various illegal lotteries set up in multiple businesses, including a deli on Springfield Boulevard and a hair salon on 243rd Street in Queens, as a part of the operation. The operations included managers, runners and agents with working offices where bets were placed on legal lotteries.