Cop: 'I did not know it was a subpoena'
A key figure in a political-influence controversy that led Nassau police Commissioner Thomas Dale to resign last week said Wednesday that he had no idea he was delivering a subpoena to a witness against former Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick.
"All I can say is I gave a piece of paper to Randy [White] thinking it would benefit him," former Nassau Police Sgt. Sal Mistretta said in an interview. "I did not know it was a subpoena. The paper said, 'Against Andrew Hardwick.' "
District Attorney Kathleen Rice last week reported that Dale and his subordinates intervened in an election case Democrats had filed against Hardwick, who was attempting to run a third-party campaign for county executive.
Democrats said Hardwick wanted to siphon votes from Democratic candidate Thomas Suozzi and help incumbent Republican County Executive Edward Mangano win re-election.
Roosevelt resident Randy White, who helped collect Hardwick petitions, testified on Oct. 2 that he was paid per signature, which is illegal. Hardwick, whose campaign was funded by Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius, denied the claim.
In a report to Mangano, Rice said police pulled White off a public bus on the Saturday after his testimony and arrested him on a warrant for an unpaid court fine after Melius called Dale about the case. Rice wrote that after an off-duty Mistretta arrived at police detention that evening, White was served with a subpoena drafted by Hardwick's lawyer.
The subpoena required White to return to court the following Monday, Oct. 7, to testify in the Hardwick case. White appeared in court but was not called to testify.
Rice wrote, "The fact that Mr. White was served a civil subpoena while in police custody is a deeply troubling aspect of this case and is still under investigation by this office." She noted that Mistretta left the force "in the wake of this series of events."
Mistretta, who retired Nov. 24 after 26 years on the job, said: "I had nothing to do with any arrest. I thought I was benefiting Randy White by giving him notification [to return to court] that he had already received. The notification said, 'against Andrew Hardwick.' It doesn't say, 'against Randy White.' "
He said he was given the paper by Brandon Irizarry, who worked for the Hardwick campaign. Irizarry referred questions to his attorney Dennis Lemke, who did not immediately return a call.
Rice's office declined to comment.
Mistretta's lawyer Robert La Reddola said Hardwick was clearly the defendant in the case. He said Mistretta "was not acting to assist Hardwick or hurt White."