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Two defendants in Islip bribery case to be tried separately

Michael A. Allen, left, a former Islip Town

Michael A. Allen, left, a former Islip Town assistant chief fire marshal, and John Carney, a former town public safety commissioner, were indicted Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016, on felony and misdemeanor charges in connection with an alleged scheme to steer civil service jobs to favored candidates. Credit: SCPD

Two defendants charged in an Islip bribery scheme will be tried separately, a judge ruled Thursday.

John J. Carney, a former Islip Town public safety commissioner, and Michael A. Allen, an Islip assistant chief fire marshal at the time the alleged crimes were committed, were indicted on Sept. 13 and accused of steering civil service jobs to favored candidates.

The indictment alleges that the two men, in their official capacities, coerced four individuals to decline Islip Town fire marshal job offers so that candidates who were lower on the civil service list could get the jobs, prosecutors have said.

In his Central Islip courtroom, State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho said Carney’s trial will proceed first, with jury selection to start April 11.

An adjournment request for 4 to 6 weeks was made for Allen’s case, Camacho said, as Allen is “ill” and “having major surgery.”

“I don’t think he’s going to be able to come back to court anytime soon,” Camacho said of Allen.

Allen is also due back in court on April 11. Allen’s attorney, Stephen McCarthy of Manhattan, did not return a request for comment.

Carney’s attorney, James Pascarella of Mineola, said he requested his client be tried separately from Allen in order “to get a fair trial.”

“I don’t really want to get into the legal aspects of it, but it’s just what has to be done in this case, as in many cases,” Pascarella said.

Pascarella expects the trial to last “a few weeks,” but said “it remains to be seen” whether or not he will put on a defense.

Pascarella in the past has called the allegations against Carney “politically motivated.”

Robert Clifford, spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, said in an email that Spota’s office “consented to the severance.” Clifford also stated that “99% of the evidence will be the same in both trials and we are equally confident in the strength of our cases against both defendants.”

Carney, 54, and Allen, 41, both face 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. They pleaded not guilty to the charges and were released on their own recognizance at the time of their arraignment.

The felony charges each carry a maximum prison sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years, prosecutors have said.

Prosecutors offered plea agreements to both defendants on Nov. 30 but have not been accepted. Pascarella has said Carney, maintaining his innocence, rejected the plea offer, which did not include jail time but would have mandated community service.

McCarthy at the time said that he would “continue dialogue with the prosecutor.”

Carney resigned from his commissioner position a week before the indictment, citing health reasons. After the indictment, Allen was demoted to his previous title of Fire Marshal II and placed on administrative duty.

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