A Long Island police commissioner has been ousted after he reportedly directed officers to pull over a county bus and arrest a witness involved in an election year dispute.
District Attorney Kathleen Rice had begun an investigation of Thomas Dale, according to Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano.
The witness, 29-year-old Randy White, told NBC 4 New York that days before his Oct. 5 arrest, he had given testimony, considered unfavorable to Mangano's campaign, in a dispute over petition signatures for a third-party candidate for county executive. He doesn't think it's a coincidence that he was pulled off a bus and arrested on a minor bench warrant shortly afterward.
"I believe they were trying to get me to bamboozle my testimony when I went back to court," he said.
White's offense was a failure to pay a fine for illegally selling bootleg DVDs. Attorney Robert McDonald, a vice chair for Nassau County's Democratic party, says there are more than 80,000 such outstanding warrants and that White's arrest was "politically motivated" and a veiled attempt to persuade him to change testimony.
"It got to the point that the police commissioner of Nassau County actually had to resign over this incident. I think it's pretty stunning," said McDonald.
Rice appeared to agree in a statement released Thursday, saying that Dale did not break the law but that his decision to intervene in White's case was unusual, and "given the case's political overtones, this was a judgment potentially fraught with peril."
Mangano told the district attorney he had no knowledge of his police department's targeting of Randy White. In addition to accepting Dale's resignation, Mangano said in a statement Thursday he'd also accepted the resignations of at least two other high-ranking officers involved with the arrest.
A deputy county executive will serving as acting police commissioner.
A police department spokesman did not immediately comment on the personnel change, and efforts to contact Dale were not successful Thursday.
The department has faced a series of public relations headaches in recent months. In July, a former deputy police commissioner was convicted of official misconduct.