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Krumpter subpoena case to be decided in federal court, judge rules

At a news conference in Mineola on Friday,

At a news conference in Mineola on Friday, July 8, 2016, acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter speaks about county's upgraded security in response to the shootings in Dallas. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The legality of a subpoena issued by Nassau Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter to compel Facebook to reveal the identity of a user will be decided by a federal judge.

Krumpter’s subpoena last month to Facebook sought all identifying information for user “Sue Reilly” in connection with an Internal Affairs investigation. A source has said the probe was the result of a police official’s complaint about online comments posted by the user critical of Krumpter and the department.

Vincent Grande, the attorney for the Facebook user whom he identified in court papers as “John Doe,” had sought to quash Krumpter’s subpoena, arguing the commissioner lacks the authority to subpoena a private citizen’s online records under the guise of an internal affairs investigation. Grande alleges that investigation is an effort to enact revenge against the Facebook user.

Grande said his client is a retired police officer and uses the false Facebook name Sue Reilly.

But Andrew Preston, a private Mineola attorney retained by the county to represent Krumpter and the police department, said during a hearing in State Supreme Court in Mineola Wednesday that he transferred the case to federal court because one of Grande’s legal arguments cited federal communications law.

State Supreme Court Justice Sondra Pardes rejected Grande’s request that the judge consider a temporary restraining order to prevent Facebook from responding to Krumpter’s subpoena, citing the move to federal court.

Grande called the move by Krumpter’s attorney a “delay tactic,” in an attempt to “pressure” Facebook to comply with the subpoena.

“This is an affront upon free speech and they’re violating my client’s rights against search and seizure,” Grande said. “If you want information about my client, determine probable cause, go to court, get a judge to sign something — not just have the police commissioner issue an administrative subpoena. It’s crazy.”

A Facebook representative could not be reached for comment.

Police declined to comment Wednesday, citing the litigation. But department spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun previously said the subpoena was justified.

In the courtroom Wednesday was Deputy Comptroller Michael Scotto, whose boss is Comptroller George Maragos, who has sparred with Krumpter publicly over a police audit.

Maragos spokeswoman Carla Hall D’Ambra said in an email that Scotto “attended this hearing on his own initiative and on his own personal time, and did not use county time.” She added that Maragos “neither requested nor authorized Mr. Scotto’s attendance, nor was he aware of his attendance at this hearing.”

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