By David Brand
The diminutive detective accused of masterminding a multimillion-dollar prostitution and gambling ring with help from his cop connections wants a plea deal that could save his co-defendant wife, his attorney said outside a Queens courtroom Wednesday.
Retired NYPD Vice Squad Detective Ludwig Paz and his wife Arelis Peralta are charged with enterprise corruption for allegedly running the lucrative criminal organization. Prosecutors say the couple operated eight brothels in Queens and Brooklyn and avoided law enforcement thanks to helpful tips from seven current cops who were also indicted for their alleged roles in the scheme.
Assistant District Attorney Bradley Chain offered Paz a plea deal of five to 15 years in prison, but defense attorney Frank Kelly said Paz is still mulling it over. Kelly said Paz is willing to sacrifice himself so that his wife can serve less time — though prosecutors have said Peralta was the brains behind the operation.
“Negotiations are a little complicated for Mr. Paz because it involves other members of his family,” Kelly said. “He’s interested in the welfare of his wife and two daughters.”
Paz, who wore an orange Department of Corrections-issued t-shirt and pants, has been detained inside the North Infirmary Command unit on Rikers Island — a safe place for jailed cops, Kelly said.
Peralta appeared briefly alongside her new attorney Luis Diaz before Justice Ronald Hollie.
“We are going to certainly have a discussion to see if there is a possibility to resolve this in a manner that is fair and appropriate for Ms. Peralta,” Diaz said.
Diaz declined to share information about the case with reporters because he said he was only recently retained. Peralta had been represented by public defender Victoria Brown-Douglas who said Peralta was the victim of “pimp cops.”
Kelly said he has not yet been in touch with Diaz and never communicated with Brown-Douglas.
Prosecutors have offered Peralta a plea deal with a sentence of four to 12 years in prison. Peralta is being held on $400,000 bond.
Another defendant in the case had been represented by attorney John Scarpa. The court clerk informed the court that Scarpa is now prevented from practicing law in Queens County.
Scarpa faces federal charges for allegedly tampering with a witness in a Suffolk County homicide case