New York City Withholds Funding for Orthodox Policing Unit Amid Corruption Investigation

Shomrim security group in Boro Park has been under increased scrutiny since a member was arrested for allegedly bribing NYPD officers for gun licenses.

Members of the Jewish "Shomrim" security patrol team are pictured in north London on August 27, 2014.
AFP

An Orthodox volunteer security patrol in Brooklyn had its city funding put on hold following the arrest of a former member in a $900,000 alleged bribery scheme.

The freeze this week prevented the transfer of $35,000 in taxpayer funding to the Boro Park Shomrim. It followed the indictment Monday in a federal court of Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein, the New York Post reported Wednesday.

A former leader of the group, Lichtenstein is accused of bribing and attempting to bribe police officers in exchange for gun permits.

Lichtenstein, who was arrested on April 17 at his home in Rockland County, a heavily Orthodox suburb an hour north of New York City, was secretly recorded earlier this month boasting about how his police connections had enabled him to secure 150 gun licenses, according to court papers.

He allegedly offered a police officer $6,000 per gun permit after fearing that the FBI was cracking down on the officers who had previously helped him. He used a calculator to show that another 150 permits would be worth $900,000 in payoffs, the papers say.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday that municipal funding for Shomrim wouldn’t be handed over until City Hall was confident that Shomrim was “a responsible vendor,” the Post reported.

Shomrim received $425,708 in funding from City Council members since 2010, according to officials in the mayor’s office. An additional $30,000 in contracts were funded earlier, including two grants totaling $20,000 allocated with de Blasio’s support when he was a councilman from Brooklyn, according to the Post. The nine contracts included nearly $200,000 to purchase vehicles.

Lichtenstein was released Monday on $500,000 bond.