Benefactor testifies at cop's misconduct trial

Gary Parker, Zachary Parker's father, takes the stand Gary Parker, Zachary Parker's father, takes the stand at the William Flanagan police misconduct trial in Mineola. (Jan. 29, 2013) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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A Nassau prosecutor hammered a local police benefactor on the stand Tuesday about why he asked for a police commander's help with his son's burglary case during a chance meeting at the U.S. Open golf tournament.

Gary Parker, who Monday testified that he regularly donated large sums of money to various law enforcement groups and picked up the tab at dinners for high-ranking Nassau police officials, said Tuesday that Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan agreed to look into the matter.

Parker was subpoenaed to testify at Flanagan's trial on misconduct charges in Nassau County Court. If Flanagan is convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 4 years in prison.

During his second day on the stand, Parker testified that he ran into Flanagan, a friend, at the tournament in Bethpage in June 2008. A month earlier, his son Zachary had stolen about $10,000 worth of equipment from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore.

Parker told prosecutor Bernadette Ford he sought Flanagan's advice on how to get the equipment returned to the school, something he believed would sway school officials not to press charges against his son. Flanagan agreed to look into the matter, Parker said Tuesday.

A few months later, after several email exchanges, Flanagan told Parker it was done. Parker shot back, "THANK YOU!!!!!!"

And Flanagan responded, "de nada family," according to texts entered into the court record.

The next day, Parker testified, his wife delivered two $100 gift cards from Morton's Steakhouse to Flanagan, along with a state-of-the-art flashlight. Flanagan acknowledged receipt of them in an email, calling the gesture "[O]ver the top," according to evidence.

Parker also acknowledged that when a Long Island Press story alleging he had pulled strings so police wouldn't pursue his son's case was published in March 2011, he destroyed all the past emails on the hard drive of his work computer.

"It was probably morally the wrong thing to do," he said.

Flanagan's attorney, Bruce Barket, began cross-examining Parker just five minutes before the end of the court day. In a raised voice, Barket asked Parker if he ever asked Flanagan to intercede in his son's case. Parker said he did not.

"You asked him to help get stolen property back into the hands of the owner," Barket said. Parker agreed. Parker had testified Monday that the high school principal told him a few days after Zachary Parker stole the property that the school would not be pursuing criminal charges. Ford was incredulous on the point during Tuesday's testimony, asking if that was the case, why had Parker hired a criminal attorney just days later.

Ford also asked why, when testifying in the grand jury, Parker had said that the principal "never indicated . . . that she took care of the situation."

Parker said, "That was my best recollection at the time."

Police never arrested Zachary Parker, but later, a grand jury indicted him on burglary charges. He pleaded guilty last year and is serving 1 to 3 years in prison.

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