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Ludwig Paz, 51, was indicted as the ringleader of the large, illicit operation that involved several brothels in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, as well as an illegal gambling scheme set up in businesses such as beauty salons, the Queens District Attorney's Office said. Paz allegedly used his knowledge of the Police Department to insulate the scheme from police raids, prosecutors said. A total of 49 people — including three police sergeants and nearly three dozen civilians — have been charged as a result of the three-year investigation led by the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau.
Paz was aided in the operation by his wife, Arelis Peralta, and Rene Samaniego, a Brooklyn vice detective, prosecutors said. Giovanny Rojas-Acosta. Paz was allegedly involved in the day-to-day operations of seven of the scheme's eight brothels, located on Liberty and Onderdonk avenues in Queens; Gates, Foster and Fourth avenues and 42nd Street in Brooklyn; and Front Street in Hempstead, the DA's office said.
Paz allegedly set up a screening process for new johns based on his knowledge of NYPD operations that helped it evade police takedowns. Detectives can't expose their genitals when interacting with prostitutes, so Paz would have new clients undress and get fondled to get through the brothel's security, the DA's office said. Paz also paid for confidential police information through his NYPD contacts to thwart raids, prosecutors said.
Cruz and Rojas-Acosta are accused of tipping off Paz about prostitution-related law enforcement activities, and Raspanti allegedly provided confidential information in exchange for discounted sex. Paz and Peralta also profited from illicit gambling at beauty salons, a deli and other locations in Brooklyn and Queens where illegal bets were placed on legal lotteries, the DA's office said. The probe used a range of techniques, including wiretaps and surveillance, to uncover the scheme's structure and who was involved, the DA's office said.
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