MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Three former high-ranking Nassau County police officials have been indicted in connection with a burglary investigation from three years ago.
Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan, 54, Deputy Chief Inspector John Hunter, 59, and Alan Sharpe, 54, a recently retired deputy commander, surrendered to District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s office Thursday morning. They later defended their integrity.
When asked if turning himself in on charges of official misconduct and conspiracy was an admission of wrongdoing in any way, Flanagan said, “Absolutely not. The people of Nassau County understand where I come from and what I am. I will let my record stand on that.”
LISTEN: WCBS 880′s Sophia Hall On The Indictment
The commanders added they resigned only to spare the department difficulty, denying they conspired to intentionally prevent the arrest of a student, Zachary Parker, whose father was a big booster for police causes.
“This came as a complete shock to him, to us, because lawyers were involved for all parties. The school had lawyer, the family had a lawyer and it was worked out. Zachary graduated high school and went on to college,” attorney Robert Schalk told CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan.
1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports
Parker, 20, was suspected of stealing audio-visual equipment back in 2009 from Kennedy High School in Bellmore — where he was a student. He wasn’t arrested and the police officials are accused of showing special treatment by deliberately inhibiting the arrest of the wealthy benefactor’s son.
According to a published report, Parker’s father, Gary, had contacted school and police officials and requested the case be handled as a civil rather than a criminal matter.
However, following an investigation that was sparked by a report in the Long Island Press, Zachary Parker was eventually indicted by a grand jury and charged with burglary, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property.
“This is a sad day for law enforcement in Nassau County,” Rice said. “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.”
Flanagan maintained he didn’t know the Parkers at the time of the burglary.
“After that, well after that, they became acquainted. They socialized together, go to dinner together, their wives have met, they’ve been to each others’ house,” attorney Bruce Barket said.
“The exercise of police discretion is being criminalized by an indictment,” Barket told CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey. “Not every crime ends up with a criminal charge of arrest, just like not every person who speeds when they get pulled over end up with a ticket.”
Sharpe’s attorney, Anthony Grandinette, denied any criminal activity on the part of his client and said the officer has been “a dedicated cop for 27 years.”
“He’s done nothing but provide exemplary service to members of this community,” Grandinette said.
The indictment says when Hunter agreed to help out, the teen’s father sent an e-mail saying: “Thank you for being a great person and friend.” To which Hunter replied: “That’s what friends are for.”
Hunter’s attorney, William Petrillo, said his client devoted his life to the citizens of Nassau County.
“He did not commit any crime. He will plead not guilty, and when this case is over he will be fully exonerated,” Petrillo said.
The indictment charges the police commanders received meals, gift cards and other awards for not arresting Parker. The officers were charged with official misconduct and conspiracy. All face at least a year behind bars if convicted.
Flanagan and Hunter submitted their resignations on Wednesday. Sharpe retired on Jan. 5. The three men pleaded not guilty and were released without bail. They are due back in court on May 22.
According to CBS 2′s McLogan, Gary Parker will not be charged. The police foundation has not been charged. Zachary Parker, however, will be arraigned Friday morning.
What do you think of the allegations? Should they face charges? Sound off in our comments section below.