Man in Nassau cop scandal gets probation

Zachary Parker leaves Judge Kase's courtroom after being Zachary Parker leaves Judge Kase's courtroom after being sentenced in Mineola. (June 22, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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The 20-year-old Merrick man at the center of a scandal that resulted in misconduct charges against three Nassau County police commanders apologized Friday for stealing equipment from his former high school, as a judge spared him jail time.

Zachary Parker was sentenced to five years' probation on third-degree burglary and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, both felonies.

Prosecutors have said Parker stole about $11,000 in video equipment from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in May 2009. His guilty plea in March also included charges that he possessed more than $3,000 in stolen property between April and June 2009.

Judge John Kase granted Parker youthful offender status over the objection of prosecutors and suspended the defendant's driver's license for the probation period.

"I apologize for my negligence and my mistakes," Parker said in Nassau County Court in Mineola. "I've learned a lot from this experience."

A derailed police investigation into the burglary is at the heart of the misconduct case.

The Nassau district attorney said Parker's father, Gary Parker, a police department benefactor, asked police officials to drop the investigation involving his son.

William Flanagan, second deputy commissioner; John Hunter, deputy chief of patrol; and Alan Sharpe, commander of the Seventh Precinct Squad, all face misconduct and conspiracy charges after prosecutors said they tried to halt the burglary investigation. They have pleaded not guilty. All have retired.

On Friday, Kase told Parker that he'll be sent to jail if he violates his probation.

"If probation says 'jump,' you don't say 'How high?' " Kase said. "You say 'How long should I stay up in the air?' "

Prosecutors declined to comment after the sentencing, noting that the case is now sealed because Parker is a youthful offender.

Defense lawyer Marc Gann, of Mineola, said afterward that Parker suffered from being in the spotlight.

"He's been treated more harshly than he would have been if this had all played out in the criminal justice system from the beginning," he said.

In two unrelated Nassau cases, Parker also faces felony and misdemeanor drug possession charges. Those cases will be resolved separately, Gann said.

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