Lawmakers are calling for outside investigations and the Nassau County Legislature to hold hearings into the police commissioner’s firing for ordering the arrest of a witness in a political case.
Democrats in the legislative minority urged the Republican majority to schedule hearings to discern if District Attorney Kathleen Rice, a Democrat, was correct in finding that Republican County Executive Ed Mangano’s administration had no prior knowledge of the campaign-season arrest.
“The facts will only come out if you have a legislative hearing,” Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) told reporters Monday at a news conference in Mineola. “We need to make sure that we get fresh eyes on this.”
Abrahams said the caucus is drafting letters to the New York State Attorney General and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York requesting outside prosecutors open investigations into what they termed an “abuse of power.”
Abrahams said Randy White of Roosevelt has his civil rights violated when a Nassau police sergeant served him with a subpoena—while in police custody—to re-testify in an elections case after a campaign donor to the plaintiff called ex-Nassau Police Commissioner Tom Dale to request White’s arrest in October.
Rice launched an investigation after White’s attorney filed a complaint. She released her findings Thursday to Mangano, who fired Dale the same day. Neither Dale nor the donor, Oheka castle owner Gary Melius, is facing criminal charges.
Melius had asked Dale to arrest White on behalf of a third-party candidate for county executive Melius was backing, ex-Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick, whose staff White testified in an election-related lawsuit had violated state law.
When asked by the Press is she will hold a hearing on the issue, Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) issued a statement that didn’t answer the question and said “District Attorney Rice’s investigation is complete.”
But, Rice said last week that the investigation is in fact continuing into Nassau police Sgt. Sal Mistretta, who served White with a civil subpoena drafted by Hardwick’s attorney ordering White to appear in court.
“The next order of business for this Legislature is to confirm a new Police Commissioner to aggressively oversee the operations of this Police Department,” Gonsalves said.
Legis. Carrie Solages (D-Elmont) likened to a dictatorship the politically motivated arrest at the behest of a wealthy donor backing a campaign that Democrats argued was designed to siphon votes away from Mangano’s opponent, Tom Suozzi.
The politically motivated arrest comes less than a year after a jury convicted ex-Second Deputy Nassau Police Commissioner William Flanagan of misconduct for quashing the arrest of his friend, a wealthy donor to police causes. Flanagan is appealing.