Top NY Court Upholds Ex-NCPD Commander’s Burglary Cover-up Conviction

William Flanagan
Former Second Deputy Nassau Police Commissioner William Flanagan, convicted of conspiring to cover up a burglary, faced a press swarm after his arrest in March 2012. (Photo by Rashed Mian/Long Island Press)

The highest court in New York State upheld Thursday the conviction of a former high-ranking Nassau County police commander who helped cover up a burglary committed by his friend’s son.

The state Court of Appeals affirmed a lower appeals court ruling that previously upheld a  2013 jury verdict finding ex-Nassau police deputy commissioner William Flanagan guilty of conspiracy and two counts of official misconduct, all misdemeanors. Following his month-long trial, the jury had acquitted him of receiving reward for official misconduct, a felony. But an attorney for Flanagan said they’re not done fighting to overturn the convictions.

“On appeal, the defendant primarily challenges his convictions on the basis of the legal sufficiency of the evidence and the fairness of the trial,” the judges wrote in their 6-0 ruling less than a month after oral arguments were heard in the case. “We conclude that these claims lack merit.”

Prosecutors have said that Flanagan helped quash charges against Nassau police Ambulance Bureau intern Zachary Parker, of Merrick, who stole thousands of dollars worth of electronics from his alma mater, John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, shortly before he graduated in 2009. Flanagan was doing the favor for the burglar’s father, wealthy accountant Gary Parker, who asked for Flanagan’s help while Gary was volunteering for the nonprofit Nassau County Police Foundation that is fundraising to build a new $40-million police academy.

Zachary Parker, Flanagan and two other former Nassau police commanders were arrested by investigators for the Nassau district attorney’s office after the cover-up was subject of a Press expose in 2011.

Judge Mark Cohen—a Suffolk judge brought in after two Nassau judges recused themselves from the case—had sentenced Flanagan to 60 days in jail, but execution of that term had been repeatedly stayed pending the appeal. Once the Court of Appeals officially notifies Cohen of their ruling, a hearing will be scheduled in the case, a court spokesman has said.

The two other ex-Nassau police commanders—John Hunter, the retired Deputy Chief of Patrol, and Det. Sgt. Alan Sharpe—both pleaded guilty to misconduct and were sentenced to probation in connection with the case. Zachary Parker pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to prison after violating his probation. He has since been released.

Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas was pleased with the latest ruling.

“William Flanagan tarnished the badge and betrayed his oath when he illegally intervened to scuttle the arrest of a benefactor’s son,” she said in a statement. “We’re thankful that the Court of Appeals agreed unanimously that this was a case of official misconduct, in which the defendant egregiously misused his power and influence as a high-ranking police officer. We will not tolerate corruption in Nassau County and I am grateful to the prosecutors who tried and appealed this case for their outstanding work to ensure that justice was served.”

Flanagan’s attorney, Donna Aldea, head of the Appellate Practice Group for Garden City-based Barket Marion Epstein & Kearon, LLP, indicated that she plans to ask the Court of Appeals for permission to re-argue the appeal.

“We are disappointed in the decision, and we intend to seek reargument and pursue every legal avenue available to continue to challenge this conviction,” Aldea said.