On May 19, 2009, Nassau County’s Seventh Police Precinct received a report of a break-in at John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore. More than $3,000 worth of electronic equipment was stolen from its auditorium.
The case appeared open-and-shut: Surveillance video caught a student near the auditorium afterhours during the exact time of the theft. School employees reported witnessing the same student attempting to gain access to a restricted area at the school. An acquaintance of the student surrendered some of the stolen goods to the police, telling authorities his friend had given them to him.
Yet despite the compelling evidence, three independent sources within the Nassau County Police Department with privileged knowledge of the case’s inner details—who spoke with the Press on the condition of anonymity because they are barred from commenting on ongoing investigations—tell the Press the student, though identified, was never arrested. His father is a business associate of a little-known nonprofit organization called the Nassau County Police Department Foundation.
Those were the opening lines of a March 31, 2011 Press cover story probing the questionably cozy relationship between the top ranks of the Nassau County Police Department and the Nassau County Police Department Foundation (NCPDF), a secretive group of business executives whose stated goal is a new police academy.
Among other discoveries, the expose “Membership Has Its Privileges: Is NCPD Selling Preferential Treatment to Private Citizens?” revealed that a son of one of the nonprofit’s associates may have avoided a burglary arrest despite substantial evidence against him due to his father’s connections with the group. The Press withheld the father and son’s names from the story.
The Press has since learned that following the article’s publication Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice launched her own investigation into the matter. Recently a grand jury handed down an indictment on three felony counts against the unnamed “student” detailed in the piece: Zachary Parker, 20, of Merrick. He has been charged with burglary, grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, according to court records.
Each charge carries a maximum sentence of seven years, explains John Byrne, a spokesman for District Attorney Rice.
“Parker voluntarily surrendered through his attorney,” Byrne tells the Press. “Because he has no prior criminal convictions and has community ties, he was released on his own recognizance with the special condition that he cannot leave New York State without prior notification to the DA, via his attorney.”
The incident began with the May 2009 break-in at the high school in Bellmore, where the electronic equipment was stolen from the auditorium. Despite surveillance video and employees’ testimony linking Parker to the crime—in addition to a statement signed by the school’s principal stating that the school wanted the person responsible for the thefts to be arrested and a signed statement by Parker’s friend stating he was holding the stolen property for Parker—an arrest was never made.
Police officers and detectives involved with the case have told the Press they were upset by the outcome but could do nothing, as they allege that the orders came down from then-Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey’s office not to make an arrest. Outrage grew among the public as well as the ranks of the county police department in the wake of the Press story. The former commissioner wrote a Letter to the Editor dismissing the allegations (despite the Press never having named either Parker in the article).
The official reason why Zachary Parker was never arrested by the Nassau County police despite their possessing the same evidence as the district attorney’s office remains a mystery.
Last week, the Press posed that question to Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, who defended the department’s non-action on three separate instances—insisting that it was the school district’s decision not to press charges, not the police department’s.
“There may have been a signed statement, ultimately, like I said, when they were interviewed they declined to prosecute,” he said. “The initial statement may have requested an arrest, but there came a point in time where the school district declined to prosecute.”
The school district, however, flatly and adamantly denies this.
“The Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District contacted police immediately when this burglary occurred,” reads a statement given to the Press after school officials were informed of Krumpter’s explanation. “Police conducted an investigation and the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District completed all necessary forms to press charges against the student perpetrator. At no time did the District ever agree to drop the charges.”
Further pressed on the matter by the Press, Krumpter promised he would “conduct an internal investigation to see if there was any malfeasance or inappropriate conduct on behalf of our members.”
Regardless, due to the district attorney’s intervention, the case remained open. The younger Parker also has other arrests both here in Nassau County and in Florida.
According to a Broward County sheriff’s report obtained by the Press, Zachary brought two-way radios aboard a cruise ship, which were confiscated by the ship’s security. After arriving in port, a customs officer conducted a search of his luggage, which, according to the report, “revealed he had two white bottle containing 58½ pills” labeled Valium “(Diazepam) and two white bottles containing 20 pills labeled Simaxfil (Viagra).”
On July 24, 2011, Parker was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance, according to the report. He was released without bail, and his arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 4.
A law enforcement source close to the investigation tells the Press that when arrested, Parker displayed two official-looking badges and told police he was an EMT. He also insisted his father was connected with the police.
Nassau County police spokesman Det. Vincent Garcia had told the Press that Zachary Parker had been a part-time clerk in their emergency ambulance bureau, resigning from that position soon after the alleged school-break in. Parker later admitted to Broward police he was only taking EMT classes, and has not yet received his certification, law enforcement sources say.
Additionally, Nassau County police records show Zachary was arrested by Nassau Third Precinct police on Oct. 5, 2011, on a misdemeanor marijuana charge. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 17.
Byrne says Zachary is also scheduled for a conference before Judge Kase on Nov. 4 for the felony charges related to the school break-in, the same day he is scheduled to appear in Florida.
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