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Long IslandCrime

Bribery case against 2 former Islip officials will go to trial

Michael A. Allen, former assistant chief fire marshal,

Michael A. Allen, former assistant chief fire marshal, left, and former Islip Town Public Safety Commissioner John J. Carney were indicted Sept. 13, 2016, on felony and misdemeanor charges. On Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho said, "This case will be tried." Credit: SCPD

A bribery case involving two former Islip Town officials will proceed to trial, a judge said Tuesday.

The indictment, unsealed Sept. 13, accuses John J. Carney, a former Islip Town public safety commissioner, and Michael A. Allen, who was an Islip assistant chief fire marshal, of steering civil service positions to favored candidates.

The charges allege that the two, in their official capacities, coerced four individuals to decline Islip Town fire marshal job offers so candidates who were lower on the civil service list could get the jobs, prosecutors have said.

Plea offers were made to both defendants on Nov. 30, when state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho instructed the defense attorneys to discuss the offers with their clients and to reach a decision by Tuesday.

Camacho, in his Central Islip courtroom Tuesday morning, said: “I will not enter into plea discussion. This case will be tried. Whatever happens, happens.”

Carney’s attorney, James Pascarella of Mineola, outside of court said the pleas offered misdemeanor convictions.

“We’ve rejected that plea,” Pascarella said. “My client hasn’t done anything wrong.”

Jail time was not included in the plea offers, Pascarella said, but the offers would have mandated community service.

Allen’s attorney, Stephen McCarthy of Manhattan, who was not in court due to a family emergency, said during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon that he “will continue dialogue with the prosecutor.”

Carney, 54, and Allen, 41, both face four class-D felonies of third-degree bribe receiving, and 12 class-A misdemeanors — four counts of official misconduct and eight counts of second-degree coercion. They pleaded not guilty to the charges and were released on their own recognizance at the time of their arraignment.

The felony charges each carry a maximum prison sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years, prosecutors have said. Trial is expected to be set for the spring.

Pascarella previously categorized the allegations against Carney as “politically motivated.”

Alan Schneider, the head of Suffolk County Civil Service, has said that in early 2016 provisional employees were hired over other Islip residents who took the civil service test and scored higher.

According to Schneider, Islip Town Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt took complaints to District Attorney Thomas Spota about threats that had allegedly been made by Islip officials to candidates who had scored higher on tests that code violations would be filed against their homes if they did not decline the jobs.

Carney, who resigned from his commissioner post a week before the indictment citing health reasons, and Allen, who was demoted to his previous title of Fire Marshal II and placed on administrative duty after the indictment, were present in court Tuesday.

Camacho ordered all parties back in court on Feb. 16 for a conference date.

“We’re moving forward,” Pascarella said. “My client hasn’t done anything wrong; we’re not accepting any pleas. We have to move forward to a trial.”

Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Ward, who works in the special investigations bureau, referred questions outside court to Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Spota. Clifford did not respond to questions.

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