Burglar in police corruption case sentenced

Zachary Parker leaves the Nassau County Court after Zachary Parker leaves the Nassau County Court after being sentenced in Mineola. (Sept. 19, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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The burglar at the center of a Nassau police corruption scandal was sentenced Wednesday to 1 to 3 years in prison by a judge furious that the man had violated a lenient no-jail plea bargain.

The burglar, Zachary Parker, could be freed in as few as six months under an early-release program that his attorney says he'll pursue.

Parker's burglary charge led to three top police commanders being charged in March with misconduct and conspiracy.

The sentence Judge John Kase of County Court imposed on Parker -- who turned 21 in jail on Monday -- was far harsher than the 5 years of probation Kase gave him earlier this year under the plea bargain.

"Everyone is entitled to a break," Kase said Wednesday. "Singular."

Parker pleaded guilty in March to the burglary.

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As part of that initial deal, which Parker, of Merrick, swore he'd follow, Parker's driver's license was suspended. But he drove anyway and was involved in more than one crash with rental cars, including a hit-and-run.

Kase said Parker "has not shown any smarts to me." Parker's attorney, Marc Gann of Mineola, said his client "gets it now" and Parker said he is contrite.

"I disappointed myself, I disappointed the court, I disappointed my family," Parker told Kase. "I deserve the punishment I receive."

Parker could be freed after he completes a six-month military-style boot camp program, called Shock Incarceration, run by the state prison system. Parker's nonviolent crime, his relatively short sentence and his age make him eligible for Shock, but he'll have to apply, a prison-system spokeswoman said.

Prosecutors have said the now-retired police defendants worked to quash an investigation into the burglary of about $11,000 worth of electronic equipment from Kennedy High School in Bellmore in May 2009 because of their relationship with Parker's father, police benefactor Gary Parker.

Police didn't refer the case to prosecutors, but the district attorney later empaneled a grand jury, which led to the charges against Zachary Parker and the commanders.

On Wednesday, Gann conceded that Parker "did get a break" at first, "at least in part because the father was friends with people in law enforcement."

Of Wednesday's sentence, Gann said: "If this were not a publicity case, he would not be getting the 1-to-3."

His mother sat alone in the courtroom gallery, snuggling in a shawl as the judge ordered her son imprisoned.

With Joseph Mallia

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