Judge in police misconduct case drops out
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A second judge assigned to preside over the case of three former Nassau police commanders accused of conspiring to stop the arrest of a police benefactor's son recused himself from the case Thursday, but did not explain why.
Judge George Peck interrupted prosecutor Bernadette Ford during a scheduled hearing in Nassau County Court in Mineola immediately after she asked him to recuse himself from the case and before she stated her reasons for the request, telling her he was "inclined" to do so.
"It is my intention to grant that motion, and I am not giving any reasons for that," Peck said in court.
The district attorney's office would not comment on why it sought Peck's disqualification.
The case will be sent back to the county's administrative judge for a third reassignment. The next court date is Aug. 17.
In May, Judge John Kase, the first judge assigned to the police corruption case, said in court that he would recuse himself because he has been friends with former Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey for about five years.
Mulvey headed the police department at the time when the three defendants in the case -- retired Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan, retired Deputy Chief of Patrol John Hunter and retired Seventh Precinct Squad Deputy Cmdr. Alan Sharpe -- allegedly took part in the misconduct.
All three men were in court Thursday morning, but declined to comment after the proceeding.
"While we're confident regardless of which judge presides over this case, we were surprised that the judge abruptly recused himself and did so without stating any reason," said Hunter's lawyer, William Petrillo of Rockville Centre.
According to the indictment, the conspiracy stemmed from Zachary Parker's theft of about $11,000 worth of electronic equipment from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in May 2009.
Parker, 20, of Merrick, pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property charges and was sentenced to five years' probation last month.
The indictment says Hunter, Flanagan and Sharpe worked to return the property that Parker had stolen to persuade an administrator at the high school to refrain from pressing charges and to ensure that Parker avoided arrest.
All three men maintain their innocence.
In an interview in May, Flanagan told Newsday he only did for Parker what he would have done for any other citizen.