Gary Parker testifies in Nassau cop corruption 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. 28, 2013) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

The police benefactor who prosecutors say called in favors with his high-ranking Nassau cop buddies to get his son out of burglary charges testified Monday that, days after his son stole electronics equipment from his high school, the school principal told him she would not pursue criminal charges in the case.

Gary Parker's testimony bolstered the defense of William Flanagan, who was a second deputy commissioner for Nassau police at the time of the 2009 burglary. That's because it contradicts testimony from John F. Kennedy High School Principal Lorraine Poppe, who said on the stand she was clear about wanting to pursue charges against Parker's son, Zachary Parker.

Prosecutors contend police did not investigate the burglary as a favor to Gary Parker.

"She said she'd spoken to the superintendent, and they'd agreed not to press charges," Parker testified of a May 26 meeting with Poppe.

Parker was subpoenaed by prosecutors to testify, he said. He is listed in the indictment against Flanagan as an "unindicted coconspirator," meaning prosecutors believe he took part but did not charge him.

Still, in nearly six hours of questioning, prosecutor Bernadette Ford drilled Parker about his chummy relationships with Nassau police and other law enforcement officials.

He said soon after he learned that his son had stolen more than $10,000 of equipment from the school, he called his friend, then-Deputy Chief of Patrol John Hunter, and asked to meet him at a diner.

"I expressed incredible disappointment in Zach, and as a friend he was very comforting to me," Gary Parker testified. "I literally sat there and cried."

Parker said he brought Hunter a police identification card and some uniform shirts that Zachary had from his part-time job at the police department.

"I was extremely upset," Parker testified. "I was disappointed in my son, and I wanted to get rid of something that he cherished."

At the end of the talk, Parker conceded he asked Hunter to "put in a good word" for his son at the department. Later, Hunter wrote in an email entered as evidence, "Anything I can do please let me know." Hunter and a third man, retired Seventh Precinct Squad Deputy Supervisor Alan Sharpe, await trial on similar charges.

If Flanagan, 55, is convicted of the top charge against him, receiving reward for official misconduct, a Class E felony, he could be sentenced to up to 4 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Flanagan improperly used his influence to get police to return the electronics to the school, something Parker thought would help persuade school officials not to press charges. Flanagan said there is nothing wrong with returning stolen property to its owner, and he would have done it for anyone.

Outside court, Hunter's lawyer said his client did nothing inappropriate.

Parker, a Manhattan accountant who lives in Merrick, acknowledged organizing and paying for dinners attended by various law enforcement officials, including Flanagan and then-Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey. Parker said Fox News host Bill O'Reilly also attended at least one of the dinners. The bills totaled anywhere from about $600 to more than $2,000 each time, Parker confirmed after being shown his own credit card receipts. "Most of the people I invited I knew, and enjoyed socializing with," Parker said. "I would characterize them as social events."

In addition to the dinners, Parker told Ford he hosted law enforcement officials at backyard parties at his Merrick home, got them seats through a charity organization to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and gave them Yankees tickets.

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