Alan Sharpe, William Flanagan and John Hunter pleaded not guilty...

Alan Sharpe, William Flanagan and John Hunter pleaded not guilty to charges they conspired to prevent the arrest of a teenager whose father prosecutors said "was a financial benefactor of the police." (March 1, 2012) Credit: NCDA

The three Nassau police commanders accused of trying to derail the investigation of an alleged high school burglar who is the son of a law enforcement benefactor received combined retirement payouts of nearly $1.2 million when they resigned, according to county records.

William Flanagan, second deputy commissioner, received termination pay of $449,858.01, according to records obtained by Newsday from Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos's office through a Freedom of Information Law request.

John Hunter, deputy chief of patrol, received $415,302.68 and Alan Sharpe, former deputy commander of the Seventh Precinct Squad, received $321,152.80, the records show.

It was unclear how much represented unused vacation and sick days and night differential pay, which are typically awarded at retirement. The lump sum payments are in addition to the pensions each will also receive.

Sharpe resigned in January and Hunter and Flanagan resigned on Feb. 29, a day before their indictments were unsealed. Flanagan's attorney, Bruce Barket of Garden City, said his client submitted papers to leave the department several months earlier and had long planned to resign in early March.

Lawrence Levy, dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, questioned the system that protects public employees' retirement packages even if they commit official misconduct.

"These guys are entitled to the benefit of the doubt until they are proven guilty in a court of law," said Levy. "But, in general, if you want to put a damper on public corruption, you'll take away the pensions and retirement benefits of those convicted of crimes related to their jobs."

But Barket said the retirement and pension benefits were earned through his client's decades of service.

"Somehow there's this fiction that they've been given a gift," said Barket. "It is money he has already earned pursuant to the contract with the county has with the police department. He didn't do anything wrong. That money shouldn't be taken away."

In the indictments, Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice accuses the veteran officers of official misconduct and conspiracy.

Prosecutors believe the conspiracy stemmed from the May 2009 theft of about $11,000 worth of electronics from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore.

The indictment alleges that the officers helped return the stolen merchandise and prevent the arrest of a suspect in the theft, Zachary Parker. His father, Gary Parker, "paid for lunches and dinners for high-ranking members of law enforcement from Nassau County and other agencies," the indictment states, adding that Hunter and Flanagan frequently attended them. A law enforcement source said Parker paid $17,000 for the meals over several years and provided Flanagan with tickets to sports events.

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