How did a felon from Long Island get on stage among a group of former police officers endorsing Donald Trump before the New York primary?

Standing under the banner of the New York Veteran Police Association at a news event on Staten Island on April 17, the men were identified by CNN and other media as retired New York City cops. One of the men, standing just behind Trump, cheered the loudest, shouting “Absolutely!” as Trump excoriated the “rigged system” of the delegate-selection process.

“These people know it,” Trump responded, pointing back at the man. “They understand law enforcement better than anybody else.”

But the enthusiastic supporter, Dale Robert Javino, 55, has never been a law enforcement officer, the association’s president acknowledges. The NYPD said Javino has never been an officer in the city, and the state comptroller’s office says he’s not listed in its pension system, which covers officers from many smaller jurisdictions.

Javino did see law enforcement from the other side, serving time in federal prison for possessing a Molotov cocktail outside the home of a couple he “had threatened to kill,” according to a federal judge’s summary of the case. Javino, who lives now in Center Moriches, was convicted in 1991 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York of receipt and possession of an incendiary bomb, according to court records.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump poses with supporters on April 17, 2016, including Dale Robert Javino of Center Moriches, right, after a news conference with members of the New York Veteran Police Association on Staten Island. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

In 1990, he had been a passenger in a car in upstate Amsterdam, near Schenectady. After the couple he had threatened called police about a car outside, officers found in plain view on the rear car seat a 40-ounce bottle of flammable liquid, rigged with explosive powder. Javino told police that the bomb was his, and he was planning to use it to burn some brush, according to the judge’s summary of the case. A federal jury convicted Javino on three charges — one was dismissed on appeal — and he was sentenced to two concurrent 21-month sentences, serving part of his time in the Atlanta federal penitentiary.

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The leader of the veteran police association told Newsday that he knew that Javino has never been a cop, though Javino was allowed to wear the group’s hat and event name tag when standing onstage with Trump. “He’s a support member,” said the president, Lou Telano, a retired NYPD detective who lives in Levittown. “I know he’s been supporting law enforcement.”

Telano also said he knew of Javino’s prison record. “I understand that it was a misdemeanor. We can accept people with that, absolutely.”

Javino, who was convicted of a felony, sought a pardon, which would have erased his conviction years after his release from prison, early in the presidency of George W. Bush, who turned him down in March 2002. The reason for the denial is not public. Felons whose clemency requests are denied are allowed to make a new request.

After the event on Staten Island, Trump posed with Javino for a photo, as he did with other members of the police group. In the photo, Trump gives a thumb’s up as Javino pumps his fist.

Javino did not respond to questions sent from Newsday via letter and email, or messages sent to his social media accounts. A photo of Javino with Trump disappeared from Javino’s Facebook profile after Newsday sent him a message asking for an interview.

The U.S. Secret Service, which is protecting Trump, often does background checks on journalists and others who will be close to dignitaries it protects, requiring that they submit name, Social Security number and photo ID.

But the Secret Service said it did not require a list of names of attendees at the Staten Island news conference, which preceded a larger banquet also held at the Hilton Garden Inn. Although the news conference was announced in advance, with live broadcasts advertised online, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service said the event was considered “off the record,” which is Secret Service jargon for an unscheduled digression, such as when President Barack Obama takes his daughters out for ice cream. Everyone at the Hilton that Sunday, whether for the news conference or the later Republican brunch where Trump spoke, had to go through a metal detector, said Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor. Although the police group on stage with Trump was physically screened for weapons and escorted, she said, “There were no name checks.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to questions about the Secret Service protection and what the candidate thinks of having posed with a felon at the police event.

Javino is registered to vote with the Independence Party. He has worked mostly in real estate and insurance, according to his LinkedIn profile, which says he is president of a company acquiring land for oil and gas companies. When he worked in insurance, he was disciplined and fined $500 by the New York State Insurance Department in 1998 for issuing premium checks that bounced before being replaced with good checks, according to state records. He was president of a land company that filed for bankruptcy in 2012, according to court records, and the bankruptcy court held him in contempt of court.

The New York Veteran Police Association, based in Baldwin, says it has 30,000 members nationwide. Although it has “veteran” in its name, Telano said the members are veterans of the war on crime, not of the armed forces. Telano, who has a radio show called “Street Wise” on WGBB (1240 AM) and has been interviewed about how he and his partner in the NYPD were the inspiration for the colorful undercover detectives, “Starsky and Hutch,” on the 1970s TV show and later film, wouldn’t answer any more questions about the Trump event and Javino, and hung up the phone.

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His group endorsed Trump last summer, praising his stand against immigrants who are in the country illegally, and at the Staten Island event gave Trump an America’s Finest Award for the candidate’s support of law enforcement. “For years and years,” Telano said at the news event with Trump, “many of us have been arresting illegal immigrants committing rape, robbery, murder, and so we are really touched by it, so we understand how important it is.”