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May 1, 2013

Ex-NCPD Chief Pleads Guilty to Official Misconduct and Conspiracy for Preventing Arrest of Police Benefactor’s Son

Hunter sentenced to three years of probation, 500 hours of community service, and is required to film a training video for police recruits

MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced today that a former Nassau County Police Department Chief has pleaded guilty to official misconduct and conspiracy for his role in preventing the arrest of a teenager whose father was a personal friend and financial benefactor of the police. John Hunter

“In February, a jury convicted former Deputy Police Commissioner William Flanagan for his role in this conspiracy, and today former Chief John Hunter admitted his guilt,” said Rice.“We brought these cases to make sure that there isn’t one set of rules for the rich and connected and another for everyone else. John Hunter violated his oath and the law when he gave special treatment to a wealthy friend’s son, and today’s guilty plea ensures that he will face serious consequences for his conduct.”

With prosecutors’ agreement, Judge Mark Cohen sentenced Hunter to three years of probation, 500 hours of community service unrelated to law enforcement or EMS, and required him to film a police training video to help recruits avoid his illegal mistakes.

Rice said that on May 19, 2009, a school administrator from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore called police to report the theft of more than $10,000 in electronics equipment from the school. The administrator identified Zachary Parker, a student at the school and part-time employee of the NCPD’s Emergency Ambulance Bureau, as the suspected thief and, in a sworn statement to police, expressed her desire that the perpetrator be arrested.

Parker’s job with the NCPD caused the case to be referred to the department’s Internal Affairs Unit. Deputy Chief of Patrol John Hunter, who was not in this unit’s direct chain of command, directed that the case remain assigned to the Seventh Precinct. Hunter had been instrumental in creating the job for Zachary Parker in the NCPD, and he and former Deputy Police Commissioner William Flanagan were frequent guests at expensive lunches and dinners hosted by Gary Parker, Zachary’s father, for high-ranking members of the NCPD and other law enforcement agencies. Gary Parker also donated large sums of money to the Nassau County Police Department Foundation.

On May 23, 2009, Hunter asked the school administrator’s nephew, a NCPD officer, to lobby her not to press charges. He refused. In a May 30, 2009 email exchange, Gary Parker requested that Hunter get the NCPD to “lay low” on the investigation into his son. Hunter responded that he would make sure that was done. On June 15, 2009, Hunter directed Detective Sergeant Alan Sharpe to have the property returned to the school. Sharpe dispatched a Seventh Squad detective to do that the following day, but the administrator refused to sign a withdrawal of prosecution form and the property was returned to the precinct.

On June 18, 2009, Gary Parker reached out to Flanagan to ask for his assistance. Through July and August, Flanagan worked with Sharpe to coordinate the return of the stolen property to the school administrator and to prevent Parker's arrest, with Flanagan assuring Gary Parker in an email that he had “no doubt about the outcome”.

On September 1, 2009, Sharpe directed one of his detectives to return the stolen property to the school administrator and to obtain her signature on a withdrawal of prosecution form. She accepted the property, but again refused to sign the withdrawal form.

Despite her refusal, however, Sharpe instructed a subordinate to enter a “close out” memo in the NCPD computer system on September 19, 2010, falsely claiming that the school administrator did not want Zachary Parker arrested.

While never arrested by the NCPD, Zachary Parker was prosecuted by the Nassau County District Attorney’s office and is serving time in an upstate prison after violating the probation to which he was originally sentenced. The case against Sharpe is pending.

The charges against all three men stem from an investigation that began in the wake of a Long Island Press story by Shelly Feuer Domash documenting allegations of preferential treatment for those with personal connections to the police department and its private foundation. The DA’s investigation would later find no criminality on the part of the Nassau County Police Department Foundation itself.

Hunter’s base salary in 2011, before overtime, was $187,208. He submitted his resignation on Feb. 29, 2012 and received termination pay of $415,302.68 from the county.

A jury convicted former Deputy Police Commissioner William Flanagan of two counts of Official Misconduct and one count Conspiracy in the Sixth Degree in February.Flanagan faces up to one year in jail at his June 26 sentencing.He is represented by Bruce Barket, Esq.

Charges are pending against former Nassau County Police Sgt. Alan Sharpe, and he is due back in court May 15.Sharpe is represented by Anthony Grandinetti, Esq.

Assistant District Attorneys Bernadette Ford (Bureau Chief) and Christiana McSloy (Deputy Bureau Chief) of the DA’s Public Corruption Bureau are prosecuting the cases. Flanagan is represented by William Petrillo, Esq.