A lawyer for a former Nassau police commander accused of misusing his influence to prevent the arrest of his buddy's son said his client is "stone-cold innocent," in his closing argument Thursday, and questioned the integrity of prosecutors' case against him.
"In this particular case, the truth is screaming louder than I could," said Bruce Barket, a lawyer for former Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan. "Justice is screaming for an acquittal, because it's the right thing to do here."
Prosecutor Bernadette Ford said in her closing argument that Flanagan improperly used his influence to get police to return electronics equipment to John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in 2009 after Zachary Parker, son of police benefactor Gary Parker, stole the property. Ford said Gary Parker believed that returning the equipment, worth about $10,000, would help convince school officials not to press charges against his son.
Gary Parker repaid the favor by giving Flanagan two $100 gift cards to Morton's steak house and a state-of-the-art flashlight, Ford said.
"This time it's not what you did but who you know, or who your father knows," Ford told the jury Thursday afternoon.
Parker was never arrested by police, but prosecutors later presented his case to a grand jury, which indicted him. He later pleaded guilty to burglary charges.
Justice Mark Cohen said he will charge the jury on the law in the case first thing Friday, and they will begin their deliberations. Flanagan, 55, could face up to 4 years in prison if he is convicted of the top charge against him, receiving a reward for official misconduct.
In a strongly worded closing argument, Barket accused prosecutors of "manufacturing testimony," and using inflammatory language to prejudice the jury against his client.
He said it is not illegal for police to return stolen property to its owner, and there was no evidence presented that showed that Flanagan asked anyone not to arrest Zachary Parker. The gift cards are not improper unless they are a reward for doing something wrong, he said.
But Ford said making sure Zachary Parker was not arrested was clearly the goal -- not helping the school get its stuff back.