The Nassau County Legislature on Monday approved a $2 million settlement for Huntington Station cabdriver Thomas Moroughan, who in 2011 was shot without cause by an off-duty Nassau police officer in an act of alcohol-fueled road rage.
The legislature approved the $2 million payment to Moroughan by a vote of 17-0, with one lawmaker abstaining and another recusing himself.
Approval of the settlement came more than a decade after then-Officer Anthony DiLeonardo wounded Moroughan twice — once in the chest and once in the arm — in Huntington Station on Feb. 26, 2011, after DiLeonardo had been drinking alcohol, according to internal affairs records.
The settlement follows publication of Newsday's Inside Internal Affairs series, which last month revealed the extent to which Suffolk County police protected DiLeonardo by wrongfully arresting Moroughan.
The Newsday series also found that top Suffolk police department officials had blocked efforts to hold two sergeants involved with Moroughan's arrest accountable.
Nassau police dismissed DiLeonardo three years after the incident.
In a statement, Moroughan's lawyer Anthony Grandinette said his client was, "pleased to have reached an acceptable monetary settlement with Nassau County for their outrageous and unjust abuse of police power and authority."
Grandinette said Moroughan "was victimized not once, but twice” by police.
“First, Mr. Moroughan was the victim of a violent, unprovoked shooting and physical assault by intoxicated off-duty Nassau County Police Officer Anthony DiLeonardo," Grandinette said.
"Secondly, he was the victim of a morally reprehensible plot to frame and arrest him for a fabricated assault upon PO DiLeonardo in an attempt to shield Nassau Officers from criminal and administrative punishment, knowing that such conduct would most likely result in Mr. Moroughan’s lengthy incarceration," Grandinette said.
DiLeonardo is expected to settle with Suffolk County, but officials have yet to disclose a figure.
The payment would require approval of the Suffolk County Legislature.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said in a statement to Newsday: “In light of all the factors surrounding the 2011 incident I believe that the settlement passed by the legislature this afternoon, is fair. The officer, who was off duty at the time of the incident was terminated, and institutional controls have been put in place to stop errors that occurred in 2011. I appreciate the cooperation of the Nassau Legislature, Suffolk County Presiding Officer Kevin McCaffrey and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in coming to a resolution."
DiLeonardo's attorney, Bruce Barket, told Newsday earlier this month that his client would not pay as part of the settlement with Nassau.
At first, Suffolk police investigators accepted DiLeonardo's contention that he had shot the cabdriver in self-defense.
Police charged Moroughan with assault on the night of the incident after taking his testimony from his hospital bed. Moroughan purportedly exonerated DiLeonardo and incriminated himself. Doctors had administered narcotic drugs to Moroughan in order to reduce his pain.
The Suffolk Police department did not discipline any of its members.
The department's chief of internal affairs supported filing charges of misconduct against a detective sergeant and sergeant, but Edward Webber, Suffolk's police commissioner at the time, overruled with a no-fault finding.
William Madigan, chief of detectives at the time, had pressed internal affairs commanding officer Michael Caldarelli to delete evidence from a key report.
The deleted evidence included accounts that DiLeonardo smelled of alcohol and that Moroughan received morphine treatment, according to a report obtained by Newsday that included Madigan's handwritten notes.
Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) abstained from the settlement vote Monday in the Nassau County Legislature.
When the issue came before the legislature's Rules Committee recently, Abrahams also abstained, saying he didn't believe the Nassau Police Department had implemented "proper reforms or corrective actions" since the shooting.
Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) recused himself from the vote Monday. Nicolello had recused himself from the Rules Committee vote because one of the defense attorneys was a former colleague.