Nassau hires outside law firm in Randy White case

Randy White speaks, in Hempstead, about his ordeal Randy White speaks, in Hempstead, about his ordeal with the Nassau County Police and Andrew Hardwick. (Dec. 13, 2013) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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An outside law firm will be paid $175,000 to defend Nassau County from an expected lawsuit from the man whose arrest led to the resignation of police Commissioner Thomas Dale.

Under a contract amendment approved yesterday by a county legislative committee, Lewis Johs Avallone Aviles LLP of Islandia would represent Nassau in the federal civil rights suit by Randy White, whom police pulled off a county bus for a misdemeanor warrant. White was a witness in a politically charged elections case.

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White has filed a notice of claim -- a precursor to a lawsuit -- and has named the county, its police department, Dale, several top police and jail staff and unidentified "elected and appointed officials" as potential defendants. The Lewis Johs firm, which already works with the county, is needed, officials said, to avoid possible conflict of interest issues if certain county staff members are named as direct defendants.

White had been a witness in a court proceeding about the nominating petitions of former Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick, who last year ran for county executive as a third-party candidate. White testified that Hardwick's campaign paid him $1.25 per collected signature. Petitioners legally can be paid only per hour.

Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius, a Hardwick backer, told Dale the campaign wanted to charge White with perjury. Police declined, but discovered a warrant on White for failing to pay a $250 fine from a DVD bootlegging conviction.

Dale ordered White's arrest on the warrant, and a police sergeant later served White with a civil subpoena while White was in police custody.

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White's attorney claims he was "arrested under false pretense" and "maliciously jailed" as political retribution. The police department has declined to comment on the allegations.

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