An ex-campaign worker at the center of a political scandal that led to the Nassau County police commissioner’s recent ouster intends to file a lawsuit alleging that his civil rights were violated.
Randy White’s attorney is filing notices of claim, the first step in suing government agencies, against the county, police department, jail and several police and corrections officers—as well as adding to mounting calls for a federal investigation.
“I was kind of tortured mentally,” White, a 29-year-old Roosevelt resident, told reporters Monday at a news conference in the Hempstead office of his attorney, Fred Brewington. “I just want justice to be brought down.”
Ex-Nassau police commissioner Tom Dale ordered White’s arrest in October at the request of wealthy political donor Gary Melius after White’s testimony in an election lawsuit effectively threatened the re-election campaign of Dale’s boss, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.
White’s claim alleges negligence, breach of duty, false arrest, false imprisonment, abuse of process, conspiracy and other claims in addition to the alleged civil rights violations.
“Once all the facts are known, I am confident that the County of Nassau will prevail,” Nassau County Attorney Carnell Foskey said in a statement emailed by Mangano’s spokeswoman.
Brewington questioned the validity of Democratic Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s investigation that cleared Dale, other police officials and the Republican Mangano administration of criminality.
“The fact the commissioner, the chief of detectives and other high-ranking individuals got a chance to walk away from this scot free thus far is absurd and it’s an absolute abomination,” Brewington said. “There were issues raised by police officers that made it very clear to Randy that this was all about the court case.”
White was arrested for not paying a $250 unrelated fine (he was selling bootleg CDs) shortly after he had testified to election law violations by ex-Freeport mayor Andrew Hardwick—a third-party county executive candidate who Nassau Democrats argued was trying to siphon votes away from their candidate, Tom Suozzi. Twice at county jail, White was also subjected to cavity searches, Brewington said.
Arrestees are generally held overnight in cells at the local precinct station house where they are processed—or, in White’s case, police headquarters in Mineola—but it is unusual for a suspect to be taken to jail before their initial court appearance, Brewington said.
An attorney for the jail did not return a call for comment. A police spokesman also declined to comment.
In response to Brewington’s claims that Rice failed to properly investigate White’s allegations because she wants to preserve her political relationships so she can run for higher office, such as her 2010 Democratic primary bid for New York State Attorney General, Rice reiterated a statement she had issued when Brewington first called for a special prosecutor.
“No criminal justice official in Nassau has worked harder to make the system more fair for all communities than Kathleen Rice,” her spokesman said in a statement. “This investigation is not over and our investigations will always be guided by facts and provable evidence rather than politics.”
Rice has said that the probe is continuing into the actions of Sgt. Sal Mistretta, who served White with a subpoena to re-testify in the elections case while the young Roosevelt man was still in police custody after the Hardwick campaign had unsuccessfully tried to file perjury charges against White. Mistratta has since retired.
Brewington blamed his client’s “unspeakable” treatment on a “political quagmire,” and he maintained that how high up the political scandal goes will come out eventually.
“Someone needs to put the hard, tough questions to these elected and appointed officials and make them answer for their actions,” he said. “If we don’t, we’re going to be living with an entire barrel of rotten apples.”