NYC sheriff fired over strip club work gets controversial green light for gun permit

Angus Mordant/New York Daily News/TNS

New York City Sheriff Anthony Miranda gave his stamp of approval for a gun permit to a disgraced former sergeant sacked more than a decade ago after lying about being sick while moonlighting as a strip club bouncer, according to several sources who spoke to the Daily News.

Ex-Sgt. Jefferson “Bumpy” Rodriguez is now back in the good graces of the city Sheriff’s Office, said the sources, who are now ringing the alarm over Miranda signing off on a so-called “good guy” letter for his pal Rodriguez. The document serves as confirmation to an agency that the holder of the letter is in good standing to obtain a firearm.

The sources said Miranda’s green light came after his three predecessors declined giving Rodriguez the letter, an official missive typically used to demonstrate that a former law enforcement officer remains in good standing.

“After three sheriffs refused to give him his ‘good guy’ letter for just cause, Miranda comes in and in the first weeks hands it to him,” said one outraged source in the Sheriff’s Office. “There’s a reason they denied him before.”

For retired law enforcement workers, a “good guy” letter — or pistol license inquiry response, as it’s more formally known — functions as a certificate to obtain a gun permit, often a requirement for working private security jobs.

Rodriguez rose to the rank of sergeant while at the Sheriff’s Office, but was drummed out of the agency in 2010 after an administrative court judge found he lied about working a side gig as an armed security guard at the Queens strip joint CityScapes — a job the judge concluded he didn’t receive authorization from the Sheriff’s Office to take.

The hearing officer found Rodriguez also lied about being too injured to work for eight months — even though he was reporting for duty at the jiggle joint at the time — and recommended that Rodriguez be fired.

After the ruling, the Sheriff’s Office terminated Rodriguez.

Two sources who spoke to The News and have direct knowledge of the situation said an official complaint about Miranda signing off on the letter for Rodriguez has been made to the city’s Department of Investigation, which declined to comment through a spokesman.

When contacted by The News over the phone, Miranda didn’t deny approving the “good guy” note Rodriguez requested, saying he signs “a bunch of these letters.”

“It was presented to me. I signed off on it, and then I move on,” said Miranda, whom Mayor Adams appointed to the top Sheriff’s Office job in May 2022.

“I get letters that I sign from the commanding officer of firearms and tactics, and that they recommended that I sign,” he added. “They’re the ones who draft the language of the letters, and they’re the ones that make the presentation on the individuals.”

He added that the “general practice” is for him to sign off on any letters kicked up to him from the Sheriff’s Office firearms unit.

One of the sources in the Sheriff’s Office who spoke to The News disputed Miranda’s assertion that the “good guy” letter simply originated in the firearms unit, and said that it was Miranda who “ordered” members of that unit to process it before he received it for approval.

According to two sources, the firearms unit alerted Miranda that there could be a problem giving Rodriguez the letter, given his history at the agency.

The city Finance Department oversees the Sheriff’s Office. When contacted about Miranda’s signoff on the letter for Rodriguez, a Finance Department spokesman declined to comment, saying the situation is an “internal matter.” The spokesman also declined to say whether or not the Sheriff’s Office has issued “good guy” letters to any terminated employees prior to the one given for Rodriguez.

Four sources in the Sheriff’s Office and the Finance Department — who agreed to speak to The News anonymously, citing fears of retribution by Miranda — painted a portrait of a close relationship between Miranda and Rodriguez and an ill-fated favor they believe could cast Miranda and the agency they work for in a negative light.

A Finance Department source said the controversy over Miranda’s signoff has been rattling around the agency for months.

According to a source, the agency’s policies surrounding “good guy” letters and agency-issued retiree IDs generally follow the contours of a federal law that governs the circumstances under which retired law enforcement officers can be permitted to carry firearms. To obtain that ID from the Finance Department , a retiree must be viewed as in “good standing” — a status that would be reinforced through obtaining a “good guy” letter.

The source also noted that Miranda is responsible for more than simply signing off on “good guy” letters, and that once a request for one is made, it’s also incumbent on him to determine whether the letter can be issued based on any issues that may have led up to an employee’s termination.

Miranda dismissed such criticisms and the sources who spoke to The News as a lot of noise coming from “disgruntled employees.” He declined to comment on why his predecessors wouldn’t give Rodriguez a “good guy” note.

“They’re trying to stir up crap that’s not there,” he said. “These allegations that they have — they have an official way to make complaints — they should make official complaints and do it the way it’s supposed to be done.”

When asked about his relationship with Rodriguez, Miranda declined to comment.

“I’m not answering that,” he said. “I’ve known people for many years, right? I’ve been around a long time.”

Rodriguez did not immediately respond to messages left by The News.

Within weeks of Miranda’s ascent to sheriff, Rodriguez could be seen walking with him at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters at 30-10 Starr Ave. in Long Island City, Queens, according to two sources.

Miranda and Rodriguez have been close for years, sources said.

Their families have shared meals together, they said, and the two built a bond in part through the National Latino Officers Association, which Miranda co-founded with disgraced former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate (D-Queens).

“They have a relationship that goes back years,” one of the sources said. “They have a close relationship.”