MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The man at the center of a police misconduct case in Nassau County has admitted to stealing equipment from his old high school.
Zachary Parker, 20, stood in court Friday and pleaded guilty to burglary for stealing $10,000 worth of computers and other equipment from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in 2009.
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But the case goes much deeper.
The district attorney said that after Parker stole the items, three high ranking police officials tried to cover up the crime because Parker’s father was a big benefactor of the department.
The three, including Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan, 54, Deputy Chief Inspector John Hunter, 59, and Alan Sharpe, 54, a recently retired deputy commander, were later charged because of the case.
Parker’s father, Gary Parker, allegedly tried to squelch the probe into the burglary by donating $100,000 to the police foundation while treating the accused cops to gifts, tickets and meals, according to the district attorney.
“He’s certainly distraught and upset that the distinguished careers of those three individuals were affected,” said Parker’s attorney Marc Gann.
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Gann said his client “never intended for anybody to even be accused of doing anything improper and doesn’t believe that anybody did do anything improper.”
Taxpayers also learned that even if the veteran officers are found guilty of conspiracy and official misconduct, they will still rake in their six-figure termination pay of the following amounts:
- Flanagan — $449,858
- Hunter — $415,302
- Sharpe — $321,152
The lump sum payments are in addition to the pensions that each will receive. Flanagan’s attorney, Bruce Barket, defended the packages.
“The idea that somehow their pension or their severance package is a gift, like a gold watch at retirement — it is not,” he told CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan.
Barket said the officers earned the money from decades of unused vacation, sick days, and night differential pay. Political observers suggest the system needs fixing.
“If you’re caught on the job breaking the law, you shouldn’t be allowed to collect a pension for the time you spent breaking the law,” said Lawrence Levy with the Hofstra University National Center for Suburban Studies.
If found guilty, the officers face prison time.
The judge promised a sentence of five years probation for Parker, and during that time, he may not drive. His record will also be sealed because he was a youth at the time of the admitted burglary.
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