A jury on Wednesday convicted former Islip Town Public Safety Commissioner John J. Carney of three misdemeanor coercion charges in a case involving Civil Service hiring in the Town of Islip.
Jurors in State Supreme Court in Central Islip acquitted him on the top four felony bribe-receiving charges as well as nine misdemeanor charges, including four official misconduct and five other coercion counts.
Testimony was given over the course of three days beginning on April 18 and included nine witnesses introduced by the prosecution and one by the defense. Jurors spent nearly four full days in deliberations, which began Friday, and several times requested that witness testimony as well as definitions of the charges against Carney be re-read to them. The verdict was returned Wednesday just after 3 p.m.
The prosecution’s case centered around the elements of power, which Suffolk assistant district attorneys Kevin Ward and Angelo Macaluso said Carney abused in his position of head of Islip Town’s public safety department.
Carney’s attorney, James Pascarella, of Mineola, repeated in his opening and closing statements that his client was “the victim of politics” and cross-examined witnesses about their ties to political events and donations to influential elected officials, and the Islip and Suffolk GOP parties.
“We feel like he wasn’t guilty of anything, so in that respect, the verdict is disappointing,” Pascarella said outside of court, adding that he “will seek whatever appropriate legal remedy we have after this” in terms of an appeal. He declined a request to speak with Carney.
Ward outside of court deferred comments to Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office. Clifford did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Carney was indicted Sept. 13, as was Michael A. Allen, who was an Islip assistant chief fire marshal at the time the crimes allegedly were committed, for what prosecutors have called a scheme to coerce four Civil Service candidates into declining job offers for Islip Town fire marshal jobs so that provisional employees — some who scored lower on the list — could be hired.
The charges included 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. The felony charges each carry a maximum prison sentence of 2 1⁄3 to 7 years, prosecutors have said.
A week before he was indicted, Carney, citing health reasons, resigned from his commissioner position. Allen was demoted after his indictment to his previous title of fire marshal II and placed on administrative duty.
Both pleaded not guilty and were released on their own recognizance. Allen, who will be tried separately from Carney, is due back in court May 18.