Three former top Nassau County Police officials were indicted by a grand jury Thursday morning on charges that they conspired to and intentionally prevented the arrest of a Merrick teenager whose father was a financial benefactor of the police, the Nassau County District Attorney's office says.
According to multiple reports, Zachary Parker of Merrick, now 20, was charged with stealing more than $3,000 worth of computers after he allegedly broke into Kennedy High School in 2009.
Parker's attorney, Marc Gann of Mineola told Newsday that police never arrested him.
Gann said Parker's father, Gary Parker, who has friends in the police department, contacted school and police officials and asked them to handle the incident as a civil rather than a criminal matter.
The Long Island Press, which first reported the story in March 2011, says that Parker's father, Gary, is a business associate of a group called the Nassau Police Department Foundation, which says on its website that it was founded to help fund a new police academy.
Charged in the indictment are:
Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan, 54, of Islip. Flanagan is charged with Receiving Reward for Official Misconduct, a Class E felony, two counts of Official Misconduct, and Conspiracy in the Sixth Degree. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted. His annual salary as of Dec. 31, 2011 was $224,929. Flanagan submitted his resignation on Feb. 29.
Deputy Chief Inspector John Hunter, 59, of Oyster Bay. Hunter is charged with two counts of Official Misconduct and Conspiracy in the Sixth Degree. He faces up to one year in jail if convicted. His annual salary as of Dec. 31, 2011 was $177,874. Hunter submitted his resignation on Feb. 29.
Detective Sergeant Alan Sharpe, 54, of Huntington Station. Sharpe is charged with Offering a False Instrument For Filing in the Second Degree, two counts of Official Misconduct, and Conspiracy in the Sixth Degree. He faces up to two years in jail if convicted and sentenced consecutively. His annual salary as of Dec. 31, 2011 was $138,776. Sharpe retired on Jan. 5.
The investigation found no criminality on the part of the Nassau County Police Department Foundation, according to the DAs office.
"This is a sad day for law enforcement in Nassau County," said Rice. "These defendants violated their oath and the law when they prevented a suspect's arrest and took investigative direction from the suspect's father. The people of Nassau County deserve equal and fair justice, and they deserve public officials who will perform their duties free from undue influence."
The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District released the following statement:
"The district contacted the Nassau County Police Department in May 2009 concerning the theft of property from John F. Kennedy High School. The district completed necessary forms to file charges against the perpetrator. The district has fully cooperated with the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office investigation into the circumstances of this matter."
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.