A Merrick man at the center of a highly publicized police corruption scandal drove four rental cars and had accidents in two of them after he swore to a judge he wouldn't drive in an effort to avoid jail, a judge said in court Friday.
Zachary Parker, 20, now faces 1 1/3 to 4 years in an upstate prison when he is sentenced Sept. 10.
Nassau County Court Judge John Kase reminded Parker in court Friday that he had warned him explicitly in June when he was sentenced on burglary charges to comply with the terms of his probation, including not driving.
"This is exactly what I was afraid of," Kase said, noting that there is a "substantial amount of proof" that Parker drove four times despite having a suspended license.
Parker's lawyer, Marc Gann of Mineola, is not disputing that Parker drove without a license on several occasions.
Parker's burglary charge is at the center of a scandal that led to three top police commanders being charged with misconduct and conspiracy in March.
Prosecutors have said the now-retired defendants -- William Flanagan, 2nd deputy commissioner; John Hunter, deputy chief of patrol; and Alan Sharpe, Seventh Precinct squad deputy commander -- worked to quash an investigation into the burglary of about $11,000 worth of audiovisual equipment from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in May 2009 because of their relationship with Parker's father, Gary Parker, a police benefactor.
Gary Parker, who came to court Friday, did not comment after the brief hearing.
Kase had agreed in June to grant Parker youthful offender status and sentence him to probation and suspend his driver's license, rather than give him jail time, after Parker swore in court that he had learned his lesson and would shape up.
But prosecutor Bernadette Ford said that although Parker's license was suspended, it was not physically taken away from him. Parker had one car already rented when he was sentenced in June, and after returning that one, he rented three others, Ford said.
Of those, he damaged one in July when he ran off the New York State Thruway in Sloatsburg, and crashed a second one on Aug. 2 into a stop sign near the Broadway Mall in Hicksville, then fled the scene, Ford said. She said the July incident was not reported to police, but the damage to the car was reported to the rental company.
Parker has been in jail without bail since he turned himself in for violating his probation Aug. 3.
It is an experience Gann says has made an impression on Parker.
"Jail is a very difficult and uncomfortable place, and I think he's found that," Gann said. "It's a lesson learned. Now it's just a matter of how long he's going to have to spend learning it."