Randy White investigation should continue

Randy White, witness in the Hardwick voter-petitions case

Randy White, witness in the Hardwick voter-petitions case in Nassau County. (Oct. 18, 2013) (Credit: Sam Guzik)

Joye Brown

Newsday columnist Joye Brown Joye Brown

Joye Brown has been a columnist for Newsday since 2006.

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Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice is still investigating the case of Randy White, as well she should.

While Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Dale was forced to resign in a politics-meets-police-department scandal involving White's arrest in October in an election-year case, it's hard to fathom why no criminal charges are being handed up.

For one, the attempt to use Nassau's police department to arrest White smacks of witness intimidation.

On Oct. 2, White, a campaign worker for former Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick, made statements to a judge that potentially damaged Hardwick's chances of joining the county executive race as a third-party candidate.

On Oct. 5 -- following a call to Nassau's police commissioner, Thomas Dale, from the candidate's sole contributor, Gary Melius -- White had his whereabouts tracked and reported by a "confidential source" to Dale, according to a report by Rice released Thursday. A sergeant and two detectives arrested him on a public bus on an outstanding bench warrant for not paying a fine for selling bootleg DVDs.

White was taken to the First Precinct in Baldwin, and later was served with a civil subpoena in the Hardwick case — while in police custody in Mineola.

White was released from custody on Oct. 6, and the Hardwick petition hearing resumed the very next day.

The timeline itself -- so much happening to one potentially damaging witness, at the instigation of political operatives, raises serious questions about White's treatment.

If a civil subpoena from a desperate Hardwick campaign -- and Rice's letter indicated that it was served by an off-duty Nassau police sergeant -- made its way into a secured police facility, what else potentially could have followed?

According to the letter Rice sent Thursday to County Executive Edward Mangano reporting her findings, Dale did not find out about the subpoena until days after it was served. Rice said her investigation "uncovered nothing to call . . . Dale's claim concerning the service of that subpoena into question."

The subpoena was drafted by Hardwick's attorney, and required that White appear in court on Oct. 7.

In White's case, police procedures, resources and personnel appear to have been influenced by politics. That is unacceptable. And the fact that White's arrest and detention followed former high-ranking Nassau police officials being convicted earlier this year on corruption-related charges for attempting to shield the son of a Nassau police foundation contributor makes it even worse.

In submitting his resignation, Dale becomes the first Long Island police commissioner in memory to leave on the heels of a scandal -- which is ironic because he was hired by Mangano to reform the department.

Rice found no criminal culpability on his part, only that he made the questionable decision to make White's arrest a priority.

But the investigation must continue.