Timothy Bolger

Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.

NCPD Conspiracy Case: Burglar’s Dad Panicked Over Press Story

NCPD Conspiracy
Gary Parker (Middle) walking into courtroom on Monday.

A school burglar’s father panicked and deleted emails to his high-ranking ex-Nassau Police brass buddies accused of covering up for his son after reading about the alleged cover-up in a newspaper article, the father testified Tuesday.

Gary Parker described his panic near the end of his second full day of questioning by prosecutors until the defense conducted a brief, rapid-fire cross examination before the trial was recessed. Neither side identified the April 2011 story’s authors—the Press.

“After you became aware of the article, what did you do with respect to your emails?” asked Assistant District Attorney Bernadette Ford, who also prosecuted Parker’s son, Zachary, once the alleged cover-up was exposed.

“I deleted them,” Parker responded. “I panicked.”

William Flanagan, the former second deputy police commissioner who’s pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and misconduct charges, was among the police brass who called Parker once the story hit, Parker testified. Parker then resigned from the police nonprofit to which Flanagan had recruited him.

Prosecutors have alleged that Flanagan and two other ex-Nassau police commanders being tried separately conspired to help Parker avoid being prosecuted for stealing $11,000 from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in May 2009. The younger Parker is now serving prison time for the thefts and other charges.

The elder Parker testified that he had asked Flanagan, with whom he had been friends, for advice in June on how to return stolen equipment in the police department’s possession back to the school, which he believed would result in the charges being dropped.

The Manhattan accountant from Merrick said he gave Flanagan a flashlight, a $3,000 Tag Heuer watch and his wife mailed the ex-cop a pair of $200 gift cards to Morton’s Steak House after Flanagan confirmed the property was returned in September 2009.

“I understood he had a close relationship with the police commissioner,” Parker said, referring to former commissioner Lawrence Mulvey, while testifying why he brought the issue up with Flanagan. Parker said Flanagan then “took it upon himself” to help ensure the property—two laptops and a projector—were returned.

Among the deleted emails between Parker and Flanagan that Ford had Parker read aloud in the courtroom was one in which Flanagan wrote shortly after the article, “Remember what I said, your family, we take care of our own.”

Bruce Barket, Flanagan’s attorney, argued that those other emails back and forth in the same chain were about Parker and Flanagan rescheduling their dinner plans—not evidence of a cover-up.

“What you asked Mr. Flanagan here…was to help get stolen property back to its owner, is that right?” Barket asked. “Yes,” Parker replied.

Long Island Weather: Strong Winds, Rain Wednesday

Strong thunderstorms, heavy rains and wind gusts of up to 60 mph capable of downing trees and power lines are forecast to sweep across Long Island on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning is expected to give way to a chance of rain during the afternoon before the winds and downpours intensify Wednesday evening.

“This could pose a hazard to anyone out driving or walking Wednesday night…and to houses and other structures near larger trees,” Upton-based National Weather Service meteorologists said in a statement while issuing a high wind watch.

Temperatures in the low 50s and up to an inch of rain is expected as rain and high winds continue into Thursday morning. The skies will likely clear up for a breezy Thursday afternoon with a high near 49.

There will be a slight chance of snow showers before noon on Friday that may turn into a rain/snow mix in the afternoon before turning over to just snow. Temperatures will drop to the 2os for the weekend, and a slight chance of snow showers will return for Saturday night into Sunday.


Freeport Man Gets 47 Years for Gang Slay

Ramiek Smalls
Ramiek Smalls

A Freeport man was sentenced Tuesday to47 years to life in prison for gunning down a rival gang member outside of a Hempstead bar in 2011.

Ramiek Smalls was convicted last month at Nassau County court of second-degree murder, assault and criminal possession of a weapon.

Prosecutors said that the 24-year-old man and two others confronted rival Lawrence Hartman, 28, of Freeport, at the Rumba Sky nightclub over a year-long feud on May 31, 2011.

Hartman, who was set to perform in a hip hop show at the bar, got into a fight with the trio in the parking lot when Smalls shot Hartman in the abdomen and left thigh. Hartman died two hours later at Nassau University Medical Center.

Smalls fled with his co-defendants but Nassau County and Freeport village police apprehended them the following month.

The other men, 33-year-old Michael Toney of Uniondale and 24-year-old Richard Paul of Floral Park pleaded guilty to gang assault and manslaughter, respectively.

Toney was sentenced to a year in jail. Paul is awaiting sentencing.

Burglar’s Dad Testifies in NCPD Conspiracy Case

Gary Parker (middle) being escorted into courtroom on Monday.
Gary Parker (middle) being escorted into the courtroom on Monday.

The man prosecutors say had his high-ranking Nassau County police friends cover up his sons’ burglary took the witness stand Monday to detail how he bought expensive meals for various members of law enforcement.

Gary Parker, a Manhattan accountant from Merrick whose 21-year-old son, Zachary, is now serving prison time for burglarizing $11,000 in electronics from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore, testified that he socialized with former second deputy commissioner William Flanagan.

“I really specifically do not recall what year I first met him,” said Parker, although he acknowledged he was already on a first-name basis with the defendant when Parker gave Flanagan tickets to a Yankees game the day before the May 18, 2009 burglary.

Flanagan pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and misconduct charges last March along with two other ex-Nassau police commanders whose cases were severed from his. Parker’s testimony came at the start of the third week of the trial. He is not charged in connection with the alleged cover-up.

Parker testified that he asked the husband of former Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey’s secretary to help get Zachary Parker a job with the police department. It worked: the then-teenager started as a clerk in the department’s Emergency Ambulance Bureau in 2008, he said.

Parker also testified he did accounting work for the nonprofit Nassau County Police Department Foundation, a group fundraising to build a new police academy. He testified the group’s expenses included $600 for copies of Pinheads and Patriots, a book by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who attended a foundation meeting.

Flanagan eventually recruited Parker to join the board of the foundation based on his work with similar charities in the past, Parker told the court, adding that Flanagan was asking on Mulvey’s behalf.

When the elder Parker said his son confessed his crimes to him before Memorial Day weekend 2009, Flanagan’s co-defendant, retired Det. Sgt. Alan Sharpe, called Parker into his squad room that Friday. Sharpe told Parker to meet with Lorraine Poppe, the school principal, which he did immediately afterward, Parker said.

The following Saturday, Parker said he gave his son’s uniform and police ID card back to Flanagan’s other co-defendant, former Chief of Department John Hunter, during a meeting as emotional as the one the day before with Poppe.

Parker said he told Hunter “in passing” to “put in a good word” for him with Sharpe. The following Tuesday, Parker bought his son a plane ticket to Florida to visit his grandparents while he was “hoping and praying” for the best outcome in the case.

His testimony continues Wednesday.

Sandy Aid Bill Finally Passes U.S. Senate

Sandy destroyed homes across the region, like this one on Fire Island that was knocked off its stilts.
Sandy destroyed homes across the region, like this one on Fire Island that was knocked off its stilts.

The Sandy relief bill finally completed its passage through Congress on Monday, three months after the superstorm devastated Long Island, the tri-state area and much of the northeast.

Federal, state and local lawmakers cheered the U.S. Senate passing the final $51 billion of the $60 billion relief package—a bill that the U.S. House of Representatives infamously failed to pass four weeks ago amid the fiscal cliff negotiations. The Senate, which had already approved the funding, had to pass the bill a second time after House GOP leaders balked and the new session started.

“Despite the difficult path in getting to this moment, the Senate membership clearly recognized early on the urgency and necessity of approving the full aid package and its importance in rebuilding our battered infrastructure,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Conn.Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement.

The funding will be allocated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers and other agencies coordinating projects to rebuild areas damaged by the Oct. 29 storm.

“We now must remain vigilant to make sure these dollars move to the people who need it most, because at this point, aid delayed is aid denied,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).

After the Republican House leadership initially refused to bring the Sandy bill up for a vote after the New Year, it later passed Jan. 15. The initial $9 billion in funding was approved late last year.

President Barack Obama released a statement shortly after the bill passed that he looks for to signing it and “had hoped Congress would provide this aid sooner.”

Gordon Heights Armed Home Invasion Probed

Suffolk County police are investigating an armed home invasion in Gordon Heights over the weekend.

Three masked gunmen kicked in the door of a Gray Avenue home, robbed a woman inside of jewelry and fled the scene on Friday, police said.

The victim was taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

No arrests have been made. Sixth Squad detectives are continuing the investigation.

The case brings the number of armed Suffolk home invasions in the past two weeks to seven, the most recent of which on Sunday left a 21-year-old Flanders man dead.

Roosevelt Man Admits Shooting Police Officer

A Roosevelt man has admitted to shooting a Hempstead village police officer who was looking to question the man about a street robbery in 2011.

Michael Benitez pleaded guilty Monday at Nassau County court to second-degree attempted murder shortly after opening arguments at his trial.

Prosecutors said the 23-year-old man fired multiple shots at a Hempstead police officer who was chasing him to question him about a robbery on Dec. 2, 2011.

The officer was hit in the left arm and back but return fire, hitting Benitez in the groin, thigh and arm.

When Benitez still refused to drop his gun, the officer shot the gun out of his hand. The bullet that struck the officer in the back was stopped by his bulletproof vest.

Judge Tammy Robbins is expected to sentence Benitez to 25 years in prison on March 11.

Bellport Woman Nabbed for 92 lbs. of Pot

A Bellport woman was arrested after Nassau County police said they found 92 pounds of marijuana in her vehicle after stopping her for traffic violations on Saturday evening.

Officers spotted Mizzie Artis driving a Hyundai in North Bellmore while talking on a cell phone and not wearing a seatbelt but she fled when she noticed the officers saw her meet a man in a minivan on Armand Street at 6 p.m., police said.

The man fled and the officers stopped the 27-year-old woman after she drove away but failed to stop at a stop sign, police said.

The officers smelled marijuana and found two large cardboard boxes in the vehicle. K-9 officers responded and had a positive alert for narcotics in one box, police said.  Two additional boxes of marijuana were found in the trunk.

Artis was charged with criminal possession of marijuana and several traffic violations.  She will be arraigned Sunday at First District Court in Hempstead.

Flanders Man Shot Dead in Home Invasion

A 21-year-old man was shot to death in his Flanders residence during an armed home invasion early Sunday morning, Suffolk County police said.

Southampton Town Police officers responded to a 911 call reporting that armed men had broken into a Priscilla Avenue home and shot a man at 3:15 a.m.

Upon arrival, police found Demitri Hampton with a gunshot wound to his chest. The victim was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead where he was pronounced dead.

The case is the sixth armed home invasion in Suffolk County in nearly two weeks.

Homicide Squad detectives are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information on this case to call them at 631-852-6392 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

East Meadow Man Accused of Injuring 2 Cops in Chase

An East Meadow man who allegedly led police on 14-mile, cross-county chase that injured two policemen was apprehended after he drove down a dead end, authorities said.

A Suffolk County police officer pulled over a driver at the Long Island Expressway exit 49 Park and Ride when the suspect, Robert Stein, drove off, dragging the officer 200 feet after his gun belt got caught on the side-view mirror at 10 a.m. Friday, authorities said.

“We had two prior incidents of this individual getting away from police,” Second Squad Det. Sgt. Steven Bluethgen said, noting that the 54-year-old suspect was wanted for repeatedly stealing fuel from gas stations.

Stein fled into Nassau County, where he was eventually apprehended after driving down a dead end, East 2nd Street in Mineola, police said.

A New York State Trooper who had joined the pursuit crashed during the chase at the corner of Jericho Turnpike and Nassau Boulevard in Garden City Park, police said.

The Trooper was taken to Winthrop Hospital where he was treated and released for a head injury. The Suffolk officer was treated at Huntington Hospital for lacerations and contusions.

Stein was charged with assault of a police officer, reckless endangerment, leaving the scene of an incident with injury, petit larceny and unlawfully fleeing a police officer. He will be arraigned Saturday at First District Court in Central Islip.