A judge has upheld charges against three former Nassau police commanders who prosecutors say conspired to scuttle a probe into a burglary by a police benefactor's son.
Prosecutors in March leveled conspiracy and official misconduct charges against the men, William Flanagan, second deputy commissioner; John Hunter, deputy chief of patrol, and Alan Sharpe, deputy commander of the Seventh Precinct Squad.
In his decision, released Saturday but dated Wednesday, Acting Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen also agreed to a defense request to try the men separately.
In rejecting the men's motions to dismiss the charges, Cohen found that prosecutors acted properly throughout the grand jury process. The defense had sought dismissal based on emails they claim undermine the prosecution's case.
Hunter's lawyer, William Petrillo of Rockville Centre, said the ruling was not unexpected because the standard for a case to move forward isn't the proof beyond a reasonable doubt required for conviction.
Sharpe's attorney, Anthony Grandinette of Mineola, declined to comment.
Flanagan's attorney, Bruce Barket of Garden City, said he disagreed with the judge's finding of sufficient evidence to back up the accusations.
"The police are allowed to return stolen property to its owner without running the risk of being indicted or convicted of a crime," Barket said.
The alleged conspiracy stemmed from the May 2009 theft of electronics from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore. An administrator there identified a suspect and said she wished to press charges.
Zachary Parker, 20, of Merrick, pleaded guilty in March to the burglary. He is scheduled to be sentenced in Nassau court Monday.
His father, Gary Parker, had "paid for lunches and dinners for high-ranking members of law enforcement from Nassau County and other agencies," the indictment says, referring to meals that Hunter and Flanagan frequently attended.
A law enforcement source said Parker paid $17,000 for the meals over several years and provided Flanagan with tickets to sports events.
The indictment states that the three men and unidentified others worked to return the electronics equipment that Parker had stolen -- an effort to persuade the school not to press charges.
With Matthew Chayes
and Robert Brodsky