Nassau County prosecutors requested Wednesday that a judge uphold the charges against three former high-ranking Nassau police officers accused of covering up a school burglary by the son of a donor to a police nonprofit.
The district attorney’s office was responding to three separate motions filed by defense attorneys last month to toss the indictment for “legal insufficiency” and “impairment of the integrity of the Grand Jury presentation.”
Attorneys for the three former cops, who pleaded not guilty in March to official misconduct and conspiracy, say the district attorney withheld relevant evidence when the case was presented to the grand jury.
The prosecutor’s motion argues that the evidence before the grand jury was “legally sufficient to support all charges,” and that the grand jury presentation was not “impaired in any manner,” according to court documents.
The defense attorneys for former Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan, former Deputy Chief Inspector John Hunter and Alan Sharpe, a former detective sergeant, learned about the district attorney’s response shortly before a conference in front of Judge George Peck on Wednesday morning.
The three attorneys asked for three weeks to respond. All sides agreed to meet back in court July 17.
“They’ve already backed off a position they asserted in the indictment,” Flanagan’s attorney, Bruce Barket, said of the prosecution’s response following the court conference.
The defense’s motion to dismiss is based on an an e-mail from officials at JFK High School in Bellmore that Barket and company say proves the school did not want Zachary Parker, the police donor’s son, arrested for stealing thousands of dollars worth of electronic equipment. Prosecutors have maintained that the school district never agreed to withdraw criminal charges.
“There is [indisputable] evidence that the school principal gave a formal written instruction to the police department three days after the original statement instructing them not to make an arrest of Zachary Parker,” said Hunter’s Rockville Centre-based attorney, William Petrillo.
According to the DA’s motion, the school sent an e-mail to a detective on May 22, 2009, the Friday before Memorial Day weekend, stating that the principal had to speak with the superintendent about whether the district wanted Parker arrested.
“These e-mails were properly understood at the time to be a brief postponement over a holiday weekend of the arrest of [Gary] Parker’s son, rather than a withdrawal of prosecution by the school district,” court documents read. “In fact, witnesses later testified before the Grand Jury that the school district expressly declined to withdraw the criminal charges against Parker’s son.”
The principal also testified that she told Parker she would not agree to drop criminal charges, according to the motion made by prosecutors.
The defense maintains the prosecution’s case is flawed and that the indictment should be thrown out.
“The case should not have to go to a trial, we’d be very confident in that forum, it shouldn’t have to go that far,” Petrillo said. “The prosecution is wrong, the legal issues here are huge, and again, we’re confident that this judge will look closely at it and see it the way we do.”
Parker has admitted to burglary and is waiting to be sentenced.
A grand jury indicted the three ex-cops following an investigation by the Long Island Press exposing preferential treatment to police foundation donors.