A vice cop with the New York Police Department (NYPD) was supposed to be fighting crime and eliminating activity such as mafia shakedowns and illegal gambling. Instead, he decided to use his position, and the knowledge he gained on the streets, to operate his own illegal gambling and prostitution ring that earned $2 million a year and services clients across Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. Ludwig Pax was ultimately busted for his entrepreneurial endeavor, along with his wife, Arelis Peralta, and the pair have copped to their activity in a Queens Supreme Court.
The 51-year-old retired cop pleaded guilty to attempted enterprise corruption and promoting prostitution. His wife pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted enterprise corruption after having rejected a plea deal that would have led to a tougher sentence seven months ago.
Paz will be sentenced June 27 and is looking at four to 12 years behind bars. Peralta was sentenced to 364 days, much less than the four-year sentence she would have received if she had accepted the plea deal.
There have been seven police officers from the NYPD that have been caught up in Paz’s scandal. Three are now former sergeants and two are former detectives. In many cases, the officers would tip off Paz, in exchange for $500, when police were going to raid any of the locations that Paz operated. One of the vice cops, former detective Rene Samaniego, was also found to have provided Paz with descriptions of undercover officers to help keep the operations under wraps. Samaniego accepted a plea deal earlier this month and is looking at up to six years behind bars.
Other officers, like Giancarlo Raspanti, would trade information for a frequent customer discount at the brothels. Former sergeant Louis Failla was able to funnel information to Paz that he gathered from the department’s database while on duty.
In 2015, the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau received a tip that led to the department launching an investigation against Paz and the other officers. Codenamed Operation Zap, the investigation spanned several months before the net was dropped over Paz and his conspirators. The tip had come from someone inside the department.