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Gerard Terry arraignment leads to Nassau Sheriff’s investigation

Nassau district attorney investigators arrested Gerard Terry, a former North Hempstead Town Democratic Party leader, on April 12, 2016, who, public records show, amassed nearly $1.4 million in state and federal tax debts while receiving government jobs worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. (Credit: Jim Staubitser)

Nassau County Sheriff’s Department employees are being investigated for violating procedures while escorting former North Hempstead Democratic Party leader Gerard Terry away from the public and news media after his arraignment on a tax fraud charge, a department spokesman said.

The sheriff’s department is investigating “misconduct,” Capt. Michael Golio, a department spokesman, said Wednesday. Terry, who was arraigned Tuesday in a courtroom called Part A in First District Court in Hempstead, did not walk out through the door leading to a public hallway where reporters and photographers were waiting.

A county source confirmed that one employee under investigation is Corrections Sergeant James McCann, whose wife Helen McCann was arrested in February and charged with embezzling more than $98,000 from North Hempstead’s Solid Waste Management Authority. Previously, she was the secretary to former town Supervisor Jon Kaiman. James McCann is a former chief of the Roslyn Highlands Fire Department and a Roslyn Garbage District commissioner.

Golio said in a statement that the sheriff’s department received “an allegation of misconduct related to the post-arraignment processing and release of Mr. Terry.”

“The initial review of the complaint has revealed that regular Department practices and procedures were not followed in this particular case,” Golio’s statement continued. “As a result, an investigation into the activities of certain Sheriff’s Department staff members on duty at the First District Court in Hempstead at the time of the arraignment is now being conducted.”

The statement did not identify the employees under investigation.

“I had nothing to do with anything. I don’t know anything about it,” McCann said Wednesday.

“I didn’t help him,” McCann added, referring to Terry, 61, of Roslyn Heights.

Terry was charged Tuesday with one count of felony tax fraud for not filing a state return in 2010. Prosecutors said more charges could follow. Terry pleaded not guilty and was released on his own recognizance.

Peter Tomao, Terry’s Garden City based attorney, said Wednesday that he was not aware of any alleged misconduct.

“The officers are responsible for maintaining order, and they did what they felt was appropriate,” Tomao said, adding that he did not know where Terry went after the arraignment. “I met him outside the courthouse,” he said.

Tomao said he has had other clients escorted to the basement of the courthouse. “It really depends on the officer on the spot.”

Terry was not attempting to avoid reporters when leaving the courthouse, Tomao said. “It wouldn’t have had much effect, I would have been with him, and I wouldn’t have let him speak.”

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