The man prosecutors say had his high-ranking Nassau County police friends cover up his sons’ burglary took the witness stand Monday to detail how he bought expensive meals for various members of law enforcement.
Gary Parker, a Manhattan accountant from Merrick whose 21-year-old son, Zachary, is now serving prison time for burglarizing $11,000 in electronics from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, testified that he socialized with former second deputy commissioner William Flanagan.
“I really specifically do not recall what year I first met him,” said Parker, although he acknowledged he was already on a first-name basis with the defendant when Parker gave Flanagan tickets to a Yankees game the day before the May 18, 2009 burglary.
Flanagan pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and misconduct charges last March along with two other ex-Nassau police commanders whose cases were severed from his. Parker’s testimony came at the start of the third week of the trial. He is not charged in connection with the alleged cover-up.
Parker testified that he asked the husband of former Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey’s secretary to help get Zachary Parker a job with the police department. It worked: the then-teenager started as a clerk in the department’s Emergency Ambulance Bureau in 2008, he said.
Parker also testified he did accounting work for the nonprofit Nassau County Police Department Foundation, a group fundraising to build a new police academy. He testified the group’s expenses included $600 for copies of Pinheads and Patriots, a book by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who attended a foundation meeting.
Flanagan eventually recruited Parker to join the board of the foundation based on his work with similar charities in the past, Parker told the court, adding that Flanagan was asking on Mulvey’s behalf.
When the elder Parker said his son confessed his crimes to him before Memorial Day weekend 2009, Flanagan’s co-defendant, retired Det. Sgt. Alan Sharpe, called Parker into his squad room that Friday. Sharpe told Parker to meet with Lorraine Poppe, the school principal, which he did immediately afterward, Parker said.
The following Saturday, Parker said he gave his son’s uniform and police ID card back to Flanagan’s other co-defendant, former Chief of Department John Hunter, during a meeting as emotional as the one the day before with Poppe.
Parker said he told Hunter “in passing” to “put in a good word” for him with Sharpe. The following Tuesday, Parker bought his son a plane ticket to Florida to visit his grandparents while he was “hoping and praying” for the best outcome in the case.
His testimony continues Wednesday.