Nassau to pay settlement to injured cop

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After a nearly yearlong delay, Nassau will pay a $918,000 settlement, plus $105,000 in interest, to a former Garden City Village police officer who was struck by a county police ambulance more than four years ago.

Garden City attorney Chris McGrath, who represents the victim, Thomas Fanning, had asked a judge to put a restraining notice on six county bank accounts and had threatened to have the sheriff's office seize the settlement money by this Monday if his client was not paid.

But County Attorney John Ciampoli said Nassau will voluntarily pay the settlement Friday after he got word that it would be approved by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the state watchdog controlling the county's finances. NIFA approved the Fanning settlement Thursday night.

Fanning was struck in May 2007 by a county ambulance that ran a red light at the corner of Franklin Avenue and 11th Street. Fanning suffered major spinal injuries and was forced to retire from the Garden City police force, McGrath said.

Fanning won a settlement from the county in December 2011 but the legislature waited until June 2012 to approve borrowing for the payment. By the time the bonding request was submitted to NIFA, more than $100,000 in interest had accrued.

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"If my office could write the check, I would," Ciampoli said. "But we have an additional layer of government."

McGrath said taxpayers unnecessarily picked up the bill for interest payments because NIFA did not approve the settlement sooner. "NIFA is supposed to watching the county's finances and not costing it money," he said. But NIFA General Counsel Jeremy Wise said the board received the settlement agreement only last week.

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