One of the eight brothels was located on Jamaica Avenue in Hollis.
By Forum Staff
A retired City Police Department Vice detective has been sentenced to four to 12 years in prison after admitting to operating brothels and gambling ring in Queens, Brooklyn, and on Long Island that allegedly involved seven active duty NYPD officers and nearly three-dozen civilians, Active Queens District Attorney John Ryan recently announced.
Ludwig “Agua” Paz, 51, of Queens Village, who has been held without bail since his arrest in September 2018, pleaded guilty on May 21 to two counts of attempted enterprise corruption and one count of third-degree promoting prostitution in satisfaction of three indictments. In addition to the prison term, Paz agreed to forfeit more than $20,000 in illegal profits, Ryan noted.
“A former vice detective used his insight and knowledge of NYPD operations to run lucrative prostitution and gambling rings. Furthering his criminal actions, the defendant used his connections with active duty officers to corrupt them into participating in his illegal ventures. This defendant ran a string of brothels in Queens, Brooklyn, and Hempstead, Long Island, as well as having gamblers bet on established lotteries in various shops. These operations are out of business now and the defendant is going to prison,” Ryan added. “We will continue to combat this kind of corruption—even when the perpetrators are those entrusted to enforce the law. The Court’s sentence today is more than just.”
Paz’s wife, Arelis “Maria” Peralta, 44, also of Queens Village, pleaded guilty on May 21 to two counts of attempted enterprise corruption and was immediately sentenced to 364 days in jail.
In a related case, then-suspended Brooklyn South Vice Det. Rene Samaniego, 44, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted enterprise corruption last week in satisfaction of two indictments. Samaniego is slated to be sentenced on July 24; Ryan said he will go to prison for his part in the operation of a complex prostitution ring and gambling rooms set up in beauty salons and other businesses between August 2016 and September 2018.
According to authorities, an investigation began in April 2015 when an anonymous tip came in to NYPD Internal Affairs that some police officers—active duty and retired—were involved in the illegal operation. Investigators then used court-authorized wiretaps, surveillance, and other investigative tools to identify the illegal network and the individuals involved.
Samaniego worked closely with the ringleader, furnishing him with detailed intelligence on police procedure, informing him of scheduled raids, and other information which facilitated keeping the illegal business open and running.
The intelligence supplied by Samaniego enabled brothel operators to set up protocols for new clients so that undercover officers could be identified. Up to eight brothels were operating in locations on Liberty, Jamaica, and Onderdonk avenues in Queens, and other spots in Brooklyn and on Long Island.
The prostitution ring alone raked in more than $2 million in 13 months using online ads to get customers. Additionally, illegal lotteries were set up in various businesses; the operations had managers, runners and agents working offices in which bets were placed on legal lotteries.