Alan Sharpe, ex-Nassau detective, pleads guilty to official misconduct
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A former Nassau County police supervisor ensnared in a corruption scandal tied to a 2009 school burglary pleaded guilty to official misconduct Monday as his trial was to begin.
A judge then sentenced retired Det. Sgt. Alan Sharpe to 150 community service hours and a $1,000 fine.
"I'm truly sorry for any inappropriate action I took involving this case," Sharpe said in pleading to the misdemeanor.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen said Sharpe will satisfy a 2-year probation term when he finishes community service that he won't be allowed to do with law enforcement agencies.
Sharpe, former deputy commander of the Seventh Precinct detective squad, also gave up his right to an appeal.
The case involved the burglary of more than $10,000 worth of electronics from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore.
Prosecutors alleged Sharpe was one of three high-ranking police officials who played a role in preventing the arrest of burglary suspect Zachary Parker, now 22, as a favor to his father, Gary Parker, a Merrick resident who was a partner in a Manhattan-based accounting firm and longtime donor to police causes.
"After the third and final conviction in this case, our prosecution has shown once again that there shouldn't be one set of rules for public officials and another set of rules for everyone else," Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement.
Police never arrested Zachary Parker. Prosecutors presented his case to a grand jury that indicted him before he pleaded guilty and served prison time for the burglary.
Sharpe had faced five misdemeanors, including a sixth-degree conspiracy count and official misconduct charges, and could have gone to jail for a year if a jury had found him guilty, a Rice spokesman said.
In accepting Sharpe's plea, Cohen said he was less culpable than the other indicted police officials. But Cohen told Sharpe his actions reflected poorly on himself and the department he served for 27 years.
Authorities had accused Sharpe of ordering the burglary case closed on police computers by claiming falsely that school officials didn't want to press charges.
Sharpe pleaded to the count accusing him of ordering a subordinate to return stolen property, knowing it was evidence in an open case, to help Gary Parker by preventing his son's arrest.
The case started when the school's principal reported the theft and identified the younger Parker as a suspect. He was a high school senior and civilian employee in the police ambulance unit.
In 2013, a jury convicted former department Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan on misdemeanor charges of official misconduct and conspiracy. An appellate court has stayed his 60-day jail sentence as he appeals his case.
Also last year, retired Deputy Chief of Patrol John Hunter pleaded guilty to official misconduct. A judge gave him 3 years of probation, community service and ordered him to make a training video for police recruits.
Sharpe, 56, of Huntington Station, retired in January 2012 after earning an annual salary of about $139,000. Authorities have said that the case wouldn't affect Sharpe's pension.
In describing the government's plea offer, Assistant District Attorney Bernadette Ford told the judge Sharpe didn't personally reap material benefits from Gary Parker as the other defendants had.
Defense attorney Anthony Grandinette released a statement saying Sharpe's plea was "a practical decision" to end a two-year legal battle. He said Sharpe always said his role was limited to helping return stolen property on orders from a division chief and a deputy commissioner who said the school and Parkers had resolved the matter. He said Sharpe also had gotten prior communications from the school telling him not to arrest the younger Parker.
"Absolutely nothing that happened today changes the fact that Al Sharpe is a great husband, father and proud retired police officer," the lawyer said.
Sharpe wouldn't comment while leaving State Supreme Court in Mineola, pausing briefly to hug supporters.