A Nassau cop who aimed a loaded gun at a Farmingdale pub manager's head while drinking off-duty will avoid jail but pay for his crime with 150 hours of community service, a judge decided Tuesday.
Calling Officer Richard Hefferon's actions "reckless" and "irresponsible," the judge ordered him to continue substance abuse therapy and pay a $500 fine.
District Court Judge Rhonda Fischer also said the 48-year-old officer won't be allowed to carry a gun for two years while off-duty, or go near the victim.
Authorities had charged Hefferon with reckless endangerment and menacing counts, all misdemeanors. He pleaded guilty to third-degree menacing.
"It was a shame that it took something like this to realize that your life was spiraling," Fischer said at the sentencing.
She called it a "miracle" Hefferon didn't hurt anyone, but said he'd shown since the April 2011 incident that he was serious about sobriety.
The case's outcome incensed Charley Ball, the manager who was victimized at South Main Street Pub as security video captured the officer's actions.
Ball, 56, said Tuesday that Hefferon deserved to lose his job because of what he did.
"This man is a menace and he remains on the force," Ball said. "He keeps his job and he keeps his pension. Shameful. I'm very disappointed."
A 19-year police veteran and former Marine, Hefferon faced a maximum of up to 3 months in jail. The judge also imposed a one-year period of "conditional discharge," in which he must file quarterly reports about his therapy and stay out of trouble or face resentencing.
Defense attorney Robert McDonald read off a list of Hefferon's department commendations and community service awards before the sentencing. He said his client had embraced therapy and started a group to help fellow Marines with substance abuse.
"Life is a series of moments and that day, that night, Rich Hefferon was caught at a very bad moment," McDonald said, adding that someone's life should be judged "by the overall arc of who we are."
The judge said it would be up to the Nassau police commissioner whether Hefferon could carry a weapon while he was on the job. After his July guilty plea, Nassau police said Hefferon remained on the force but didn't carry a service weapon.
A police spokesman said the department had no immediate comment following Hefferon's sentencing, and didn't answer messages later.
Nassau Police Benevolent Association president James Carver said of Hefferon: "He's a guy that has followed a program, and like anybody else, he's getting a second chance, which is good."