An Islip Town fire marshal pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor coercion charge, less than a year after he was first indicted on 16 counts alleging his involvement in a scheme to steer Civil Service positions to favored candidates.
Michael Allen entered his conditional plea before state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho in Central Islip alongside his attorney, Stephen McCarthy of Manhattan.
Prosecutors offered Allen a plea deal last fall and again in May that included no jail time. This spring, Camacho ordered the case to trial, which was scheduled to start with jury selection on Wednesday.
Under the terms of the deal reached Tuesday, Allen was ordered to complete 140 hours of community service work at his church within one year, Camacho said. Allen will be “coming back to court on a regular basis” and if he “stays out of trouble and is living a law abiding life,” the misdemeanor charge will be reduced to a noncriminal violation, Camacho said.
“A lot of factors went into” this plea deal, Camacho said, including “certain health issues that Mr. Allen has.”
Allen did not speak during the brief proceeding, except for answering Camacho’s questions with a “Yes, sir” or “No sir.”
The noncriminal violation would leave Allen “with no criminal record whatsoever as a result of this case,” McCarthy said outside court, adding that Allen is “looking forward to moving forward with his life.”
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Ward declined to comment outside court and deferred to Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office. Clifford did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Islip Town spokeswoman Caroline Smith would not comment on the disposition or Allen’s future employment status with the town, citing “personnel matters.” After the indictment, Smith had said Allen was placed on modified administrative duty.
Allen, along with former Islip Town Public Safety Commissioner John J. Carney, was indicted on Sept. 13 and charged with 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.
Prosecutors have said Allen, who was an Islip assistant chief fire marshal when the crimes allegedly were committed, acted with Carney 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.
Allen and Carney both pleaded not guilty when they were arraigned on the indictment; both had been released on their own recognizance.
On April 26, after three days of testimony and nearly four full days of deliberations, a jury in Camacho’s courtroom convicted Carney of three misdemeanor coercion charges. Jurors acquitted him of the top four felony bribe-receiving charges as well as nine misdemeanor charges, including four official misconduct and five other coercion counts.
A week before he was indicted, Carney, citing health reasons, resigned from his commissioner position. Sentencing for Carney is set for Aug. 3.
Allen is due back in court Sept. 13.