A former Long Island police official convicted of pulling strings to help the son of a wealthy department benefactor was sentenced Monday to 60 days in jail and three months community service.
William Flanagan, a former Nassau County deputy police commissioner, plans to appeal the official misconduct conviction and sentence, his attorney told reporters following a court hearing that was jammed with dozens of his relatives and supporters, including U.S. Rep. Peter King.
"We fully expect him to be exonerated of these charges," attorney Bruce Barket said. Flanagan, who was cheered by supporters following the sentencing proceeding, thanked his backers but did not speak with reporters.
After the proceeding, King called Flanagan "one of the most honest people I've ever met."
Prosecutors said Flanagan and two others arranged the dropping of an investigation into the theft of about $10,000 in electronics from a Long Island high school because the suspected thief was the son of a businessman who had wined and dined police brass and made generous donations to a police foundation.
Police never charged the teen, Zachary Parker, but he was later indicted by a grand jury after the district attorney's office took over the investigation. Parker pleaded guilty and is serving up to three years in prison.
Flanagan, 55, and the others took the extraordinary steps as a favor to Parker's father, Gary, a partner in a Manhattan accounting firm, prosecutors said. The elder Parker, a longtime supporter of police causes, was not charged with any crime.
Flanagan, who was a Nassau officer for nearly 30 years, helped broker the return of the electronics, prosecutors said, and afterward he received a thank-you card from the Parkers that included several hundred dollars of gift cards to a steakhouse.
Barket argued at trial that his client was merely trying to help arrange the return of the stolen property to the school.
"He's never disputed that he engaged in the conduct of inquiring about the return of stolen property to its owner," Barket said. "Such conduct is not criminal."
Barket also reacted to Judge Mark Cohen's comments that Flanagan had shown no remorse that would merit a lenient sentence.
"He's shown no remorse because he's done nothing wrong," Barket said
One of the other police officials charged in the case, former Chief of Patrol John Hunter, pleaded guilty in May to official misconduct and conspiracy charges. He was sentenced to three years' probation and 500 hours of community service.
A third officer, Seventh Precinct Squad Deputy Supervisor Alan Sharpe, has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.