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Lawyer: Hempstead officer and school board member Randy Stith indicted

Trustee Randy Stith speaks at a Hempstead School

Trustee Randy Stith speaks at a Hempstead School Board meeting on April 12. Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman

Randy Stith, a Hempstead Village police officer, school board member and former volunteer firefighter, has been indicted, Stith and his lawyer said Tuesday.

Stith and his lawyer, Joseph Conway, said they didn’t know the charges but planned to answer them in court Wednesday.

“I’m aware of how the justice system works and as a police officer, I have faith in the justice system that it will work out and that I will be vindicated,” Stith said in a phone interview Tuesday.

A spokesman for the Nassau district attorney’s office declined to comment.

Conway said his client has been a longtime public servant and has surrendered his gun to police.

“Mr. Stith has served his community with distinction for many years in several roles,” he said Tuesday. “While we have not been furnished with any charges at this time, Mr. Stith has done no wrongdoing.”

Hempstead Village Police Chief Michael McGowan and school board president Maribel Toure could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Hempstead Fire Chief Steve Giardino declined to comment Tuesday on the indictment but confirmed that Stith was a former village firefighter. Conway said Stith was previously the fire department’s treasurer.

A posting at police headquarters Tuesday stated that Stith had been placed on administrative leave immediately “until further notice.”

The Hempstead school district issued a statement Tuesday.

“Hempstead School Board Member Randy Stith is someone who has given years to public service and deserves the benefit of the doubt,” the school district said. “However, these are very serious allegations and if the charges are proven true, then the School District and School Board will have to address it immediately . . .”

“As the allegations do not involve any events that took place on school grounds or at school events the District cannot comment any further,” the district said.

In an emailed statement, State Education Department spokeswoman Emily DeSantis said, “We are not going to comment on the indictment.”

Stith was elected to a three-year term on the school board in May 2017 and is part of the three-person board majority of David Gates, the village government’s administrator, and LaMont Johnson, a member of the village’s board of trustees and a former Hempstead police officer. Johnson and Gates could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

During the campaign, Stith’s arrest from 2010 became an issue.

Stith was charged at the age of 19 with misdemeanor assault and criminal possession of a weapon after he allegedly hit a woman in the head with a bottle of bleach, splashing the chemical into her eyes, during a dispute over clothes at a Hempstead Laundromat, court records show.

He pleaded guilty to a second-degree harassment violation, which is not a criminal offense. He served 5 days in jail, paid $200 in fines and $120 in court surcharges and received a 1-year conditional discharge, according to the records.

The court records with Stith’s case dispositions are labeled “sealed,” but the Nassau County District Court in Hempstead made the criminal complaints and case dispositions available to Newsday over the summer. During the campaign, Stith appeared to address the incident in a Facebook video.

“Since my little incident some seven years ago, which I was found un-guilty of, I have served the community as a member of the fire department,” he said in the video.

Stith had previously served as a lieutenant in the village’s volunteer fire department but left several months ago.

Village Mayor Don Ryan described Stith as his godson during his police swearing-in ceremony in June 2017 but would not comment Tuesday.

“As a policy, we do not comment on anything involving Hempstead Village personnel matters,” Ryan said in a statement.

With Keshia Clukey

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