William Flanagan, ex-Nassau police brass, appeals misconduct, conspiracy conviction
A former Nassau County Police Department deputy commissioner is appealing his 2013 conviction on official misconduct and conspiracy charges after prosecutors alleged he misused his position to prevent the arrest of a police benefactor's son.
William Flanagan's lawyers say the evidence didn't support guilty findings, and prejudicial evidence and improper arguments kept him from getting a fair trial.
Wednesday's filing in the Appellate Division in Brooklyn of State Supreme Court also claims that misconduct by the prosecution impaired the integrity of grand jury proceedings.
It argues the prosecution's central theme during the trial had nothing to do with Flanagan, and that the government appealed to jurors' emotions by making arguments about equal justice for everyone, not just the rich and well-connected.
"This was a very politically charged trial," said attorney Donna Aldea, who is handling Flanagan's appeal. " . . . prosecutors have a role as ministers of justice, and really what they're supposed to do is see that justice is done, not focus on getting a conviction at all costs."
In July, State Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen sentenced Flanagan to 60 days in jail and three months of community service after a jury convicted the him on three misdemeanors.
The panel acquitted Flanagan of a felony charge of receiving an award for official misconduct. The Appellate Court stayed Flanagan's jail sentence pending his appeal.
Shams Tarek, a spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, declined to comment on the appeal Wednesday.
Prosecutors had accused Flanagan of improperly using his position in 2009 to get police to return stolen electronics to John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore after Zachary Parker, the son of police benefactor Gary Parker, took them.
Gary Parker, a Manhattan accountant who lives in Merrick, repaid Flanagan's favor with steakhouse gift cards and a state-of-the-art flashlight, according to the government.
Flanagan said in court before his sentencing that he didn't break the law or violate his duty. Defense lawyer Bruce Barket argued at trial that it wasn't illegal for police to return stolen property to an owner and there was no evidence Flanagan asked anyone not to arrest Gary Parker's son.
The appeal repeats those claims, and says Flanagan never tried to persuade school officials to drop the charges.
Flanagan, whose last salary was about $225,000 annually, had served as the Nassau police force's second deputy commissioner and spent 29 years on the force. He retired in February 2012 and is drawing a pension.