A judge overseeing the Islip coercion case against former Islip Town Public Safety Commissioner John Carney on Wednesday denied a defense motion to dismiss the indictment.
Carney’s attorney, James Pascarella of Mineola, said in court on Tuesday that Assistant District Attorney Kevin Ward had emailed him a document a few days before from an investigation conducted by Suffolk County Civil Service that showed one of the four complaining witnesses in the case had declined a job with Islip Town and had not been coerced to turn it down.
Carney, along with Michael A. Allen, an Islip Town assistant chief fire marshal at the time of the alleged crimes, were indicted Sept. 13 for allegedly coercing four individuals to decline town fire marshal job offers so candidates who placed lower on the Civil Service list, and who were provisional employees with the town, would get the jobs, prosecutors have said.
Pascarella argued that the document, which Ward said was just uncovered, was not shown to the grand jury and, therefore, “impugned the integrity of the grand jury.”
However, State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho in his Central Islip courtroom Wednesday morning said that prosecutors “enjoy wide discretion” when presenting a case to a grand jury and pointed to appellate rulings that say prosecutors “are not obligated to present all evidence favorable to the defense.”
Camacho also ruled that Alan Schneider, head of Suffolk County Civil Service, could give testimony about civil service law. On Tuesday, Pascarella made a motion to preclude him from offering testimony on that subject.
“We are going to have to defend him [Carney] against violations to civil service law when he wasn’t charged with that,” Pascarella said Tuesday. “I think it would violate my client’s due process right and it shouldn’t be allowed.”
Camacho disagreed. “Through Schneider or another way, the jury has the right to understand what the civil service law is,” he said, adding that the crux of the prosecutor’s case involves coercion around civil service law. “One way or the other, it has to come out.”
Both Carney and Allen are 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. The felony charges each carry a maximum prison sentence of 2 1⁄3 to 7 years, prosecutors have said.
Carney and Allen at their arraignments pleaded not guilty to the charges and were released on their own recognizance.
Carney resigned from his commissioner position a week before the indictment, citing health reasons. After he was indicted, Allen was demoted to his previous title of fire marshal II and placed on administrative duty. Allen, who will be tried separately from Carney, is due back in court May 18.
Jury selection began shortly after Camacho’s rulings Wednesday morning. Opening statements in the case are set for Tuesday. Prosecutors are expected to spend about 2 1/2 weeks putting on their case and call more than a dozen witnesses.