Jury selection started Thursday in the trial of a former high-ranking Nassau County police official accused of conspiring to cover up a school burglary as a favor to a police benefactor.
Mark Cohen, the Suffolk County judge presiding over the case against ex-second deputy commissioner William Flanagan, said the trial is expected to conclude in mid-February, barring any setbacks.
Flanagan and two other former high-ranking police officials, deputy chief of patrol John Hunter and Alan Sharpe, deputy commander of the Seventh Precinct, have denied accusations of scuttling an investigation into a Merrick man who stole more than $10,000 worth of electronics from Bellmore’s John F. Kennedy High School in 2009.
Zachary Parker, the son of a prominent police benefactor, last year admitted to the burglary, violated his probation and was sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison. Parker and his father have not been charged in connection with the alleged cover up.
In the Flanagan case, nearly 100 prospective jurors—many forced to stand—packed the Nassau County courtroom and were asked if health, business, vacation obligations, language difficulties or other responsibilities would preclude them from serving.
Students and those caring for children or the elderly were released with little or no contest. But those claiming business obligations were met with more scrutiny by the judge, prosecutors and defense counsel.
The judge went over the case with possible jurors and advised them not to speculate why Sharpe, Hunter and Flangan are scheduled to be tried separately. The jury selection process is expected to continue into next week.
Before the jurors were ushered in, Cohen discussed procedural issues in the upcoming trial, including an amendment to the original indictment and acknowledging that he received the prosecutors’ witness list.
Cohen was appointed in March after two previous Nassau judges recused themselves. One of the two, Judge John Kase, announced this week his retirement and return to the criminal defense law firm he founded.
Flangan, Sharpe and Hunter were indicted following a Press expose into benefits given to those who have donated money to a Nassau police nonprofit foundation that is building a new police academy at Nassau Community College.