William Flanagan, ex-Nassau police official, sentenced to 60 days in jail

William Flanagan, a former Nassau police commander accused of misusing his position to prevent his friend's son from being arrested, was sentenced Monday to 60 days in jail. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (July 15, 2013)

Former Nassau police Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan, who was convicted of misusing his position to help stop his friend's son from being arrested, was sentenced Monday to 60 days in jail.

Flanagan, 56, received his sentence, which also included three months of community service, in a standing-room-only court packed with supporters. He left the Mineola courtroom to huge applause.

After the proceeding, a state appellate court stayed his jail sentence pending an appeal.

MORE: Long Island crime coverage

"Without a jail component, the message to the public will be that these crimes are not serious," State Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen said before sentencing Flanagan. Cohen said Flanagan had never admitted criminal responsibility, nor shown "any remorse, nor apologized to the department or the public" for his "breach of trust."

Flanagan's lawyer, Bruce Barket of Garden City, said outside court it was unfair for the judge to expect Flanagan to express remorse. Barket has said Flanagan has a strong case for appeal. He submitted about 150 letters written on Flanagan's behalf to Cohen, including one from former Nassau Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey and another from Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), both of whom attended the sentencing.

"He's showed no remorse because he'd done nothing wrong," Barket said outside court. "He admitted no guilt because he is not guilty."

In February, a Nassau jury found Flanagan guilty of misdemeanor official misconduct and conspiracy charges -- but not guilty of felony receiving an award for official misconduct.

Prosecutors say Flanagan improperly used his influence to get police to return electronics equipment to John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in 2009 after Zachary Parker, son of police benefactor Gary Parker, stole it. Prosecutors said Flanagan believed the school could be persuaded not to pursue charges against Parker once the equipment had been returned.

Gary Parker repaid the favor by giving Flanagan two $100 gift cards to a Great Neck restaurant and a state-of-the-art flashlight, prosecutor Bernadette Ford said in her summation at trial.

Zachary Parker was never arrested by police, but prosecutors later presented his case to a grand jury, which indicted him. He pleaded guilty to burglary charges and is serving 1 to 3 years in prison.

Ford said Monday that Flanagan, whose annual salary was $224,929 when he retired in February 2012, was a role model, and his subordinates were likely to follow his lead.

"They must know that there is much more at stake than losing their jobs and becoming embarrassed," Ford said as she asked the judge to sentence Flanagan to a year in jail.

Two other retired police officials, Deputy Chief of Patrol John Hunter and Seventh Precinct Squad Deputy Supervisor Alan Sharpe, also were charged in the case. Sharpe awaits trial on misdemeanor charges. Hunter pleaded guilty in May to misdemeanor official misconduct and was sentenced to probation. Each, including Flanagan, will receive a pension.

In a tearful statement before he was sentenced, Flanagan said he respects the jury's verdict and did not dispute the facts of the case. But he said he would have helped anyone, not just his buddy's son, and he did not break the law.

"At no time did I violate my duty," Flanagan said. "I would have made the same inquiries regardless of who had asked."

At trial, Barket argued it was not illegal for police to return stolen property to the owner, and there was no evidence Flanagan asked anyone not to arrest Zachary Parker.

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