A police sergeant says the NYPD covered up the most damning allegations in its 2015 karaoke bar bribery scandal including a plan to frame a commanding officer for rape.
Giving notice that he plans to sue the city for $35 million, whistleblower Sgt. Steven Lee alleges police brass hid the massive scale of the Queens nightclub corruption.
Just two cops were arrested in the crackdown, Lt. Robert Sung and Det. Yatyu Yam. They were accused of taking payments in exchange for advance warning to Flushing, Queens karaoke club owners about police raids.
NYPD lieutenant Robert Sung and detective Yatyu Yam were busted for warning karaoke bar owners about police raids in exchange for bribes, in Dec 2015.
Lt. Sung, 53, was arrested for allegedly taking bribes and obstructing governmental administration. Det. Yam, 40, was held on charges of bribery and official misconduct.
Yam, then a 10-year veteran, allegedly received tens of thousands of dollars tipping off clubs about impending police raids, and even attempted to convince fellow cops not to make arrests at those bars, according to a criminal complaint.
They were two of six officers caught up in the bribery and obstruction of justice scandal that engulfed the 109th Precinct in December, 2015.
After Sung’s arrest, and Sgt. Yam , four others, officer Ben Hoo Wong, Sgt. Chung Bang and Officer James Yue, as well as, Officer Chunning [Robert] Young, from Patrol Borough Queens North were all placed on modified duty.
Lt. Robert Sung and Detective Yatyu Yam were taking bribes from KTV Cinderalla Lounge in Flushing in exchange for quashing drug arrests and giving advance warnings of police raids on the club
Det. Yam who was assigned to the 109th Precinct, allegedly approached Jimmy Li, the owner of Club JJNY in December 2013, saying he’d offer information about planned raids in exchange for money.
“[Yam] stated to the club manager that if he got paid under the table, he would notify the club manager if narcotics or vice units schedule police raids that were going to be conducted at the club,” the complaint states.
He allegedly made good on his promise, according to the complaint – during a police inspection at the club on Aug. 30, 2014, three or four people were arrested on drug possession charges, and Yam allegedly phoned a cop at the scene, “asking what [the officer] was doing at the club.”
“[Yam] told him that he should not be in the location,” the complaint says.
The club patrons were released and cops left without making any arrests.
Sung the complaint alleges, had a mind to set up a frame-job to “protect his bribe receiving rackets from department scrutiny.” Lt. Robert Sung, eventually was fired for refusing to participate in the IAB probe, He pled guilty to attempted official misconduct in Feb 2016
On Sept. 12, 2014, Yam allegedly called up another officer asking why “he had taken enforcement action” at karaoke bar Joyful in Flushing and demanded they let two drug-possessing club patrons go free. When that didn’t work, he requested that the arrested clubgoers be given desk appearance tickets instead of jail, the complaint says.
Sung and Yam both were suspended from NYPD but eventually reinstated to the force.
However Sgt. Lee, who was an undercover officer in the Internal Affairs probe, says the corruption ran much deeper and involved around 100 cops.
At the heart of his notice of claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, is Jimmy Li, owner of two Flushing clubs, JJNY Cafe on Northern Boulevard and CEO KTV & Cafe on College Point Boulevard.
Lee was put on the internal probe after Sung allegedly told him that he planned to frame Thomas Conforti, the commanding officer of the 109th Precinct, as a favor to the club owner.
Former police commissioner Bill Bratton [right], and Jimmy Li [left], the club owner at the heart of the scandal
Sung planned to falsely accuse him of raping a female escort in one of the karaoke joints, to protect the bribe racket from scrutiny, Lee claims.
Lee said he drove Sung to a pizzeria when the lieutenant confided in him about the plan to get an escort to allege that the commanding officer of the precinct had raped her.
Lee reported that to superiors but they did nothing, he claims.
Shortly after Sung and Yam were arrested, Li the club owner who allegedly paid cops tens of thousands in bribes to protect his clubs, was spotted at then Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s holiday party.
“He was telling people he was friends with the PC,” Lee said.
When Lee brought higher-ups evidence of criminal activity by numerous cops, including a chief, detectives, sergeants and lieutenants, he was told to limit the scope of his probe, the claim says.
Lee says video and audio recordings of the additional corruption mysteriously “malfunctioned” after he handed it over.
Lee said he recorded video and audio of more corruption in 2015, but his handlers told him to focus on Sung. He was told many of his recordings mysteriously “malfunctioned” and wound up unreadable he alleges.
At the center of the bribe-for-info probe: Club KTV Cinderalla Lounge in Flushing, NY
Lee questioned the integrity of the investigation, but Bratton subjected him to internal investigations and barred him from promotions, his claim alleges.
“The police always claim they can clean up after themselves, but they can’t,” said Lee’s attorney, Eric Sanders. “The watchers are corrupt. The whole internal investigation process is a big joke.”
Robert Sung and Yatyu Yam never served jail time, receiving conditional discharges for their roles in the scandal.
Yam, who police sources said resigned, pleaded guilty to obstruction of government administration in July, 2016.
Sung, after 23 years of service was fired for refusing to participate in the IAB probe, pleaded guilty to attempted official misconduct in February, 2016.
He kept his pension because he had more than 20 years on the job.