Attorneys for the ex-deputy Nassau County police commissioner convicted last year of misconduct for covering up a burglary committed by the son of a police nonprofit donor are appealing the verdict.
In an appeal filed Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, attorneys for William Flanagan argue that the trial was tainted by legally insufficient evidence, prejudicial hearsay and prejudicial closing arguments by prosecutors, his lawyers said.
“The prosecution really abandoned their role as administers of justice…and really used a convict-at-all-costs tactic,” said Donna Aldea, head of the Appellate Practice Group for Garden City-based Barket Marion Epstein & Kearon, LLP, adding that the trial was “politically charged.”
A jury had convicted the former second deputy Nassau police commissioner in February 2013 of three misdemeanors: conspiracy and two counts of official misconduct. He was acquitted of a felony charge, receiving reward for official misconduct, following the month-long trial.
Judge Mark Cohen, who was brought in from Suffolk after two Nassau judges recused themselves from the case, had sentenced Flanagan to 60 days in jail. The appellate court stayed the execution of that sentence pending the appeal.
Flanagan resigned after he and two other ex-police commanders were indicted in 2012 on similar charges in connection with the scandal, which prosecutors began investigating after a Press expose into favoritism to donors of a nonprofit fundraising to build a new police academy.
John Hunter, the retired Deputy Chief of Patrol, pleaded guilty to official misconduct and conspiracy a few months after Flanagan’s conviction. Hunter was sentenced to three years of probation and 500 hours of community service.
The case against retired Det. Sgt. Alan Sharpe, who pleaded not guilty to similar charges, is pending while attorneys for Flanagan appeal the conviction.
Prosecutors had argued that Flanagan, Hunter and Sharpe each played a role in quashing burglary charges against Zachary Parker, who stole thousands of dollars worth of electronics from his alma mater, John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, in 2009.
Parker was later charged by prosecutors, pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to upstate prison after he violated the terms of his probation. He was released from a prison boot camp last summer.
Parker’s father, Gary, was identified in court as an unindicted co-conspirator for asking his police friends for help in getting the charges against his son dropped, but was not charged with a crime himself. Prosecutors also cleared the nonprofit Nassau County Police Foundation, which Parker was a member of before he resigned.
Aldea also argues that testimony that the grand jury heard before indicting her client was proven false at trial.
A spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, whose office has two months two respond in court, did not immediately comment.