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Lawyer: School never wavered on prosecuting theft

Former Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey arrives

Former Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey arrives at the Nassau County Court to show his support for William Flanagan in Mineola. (Feb. 4, 2013) Credit: Howard Schnapp

A lawyer for the Bellmore-Merrick school district testified Tuesday that a decision was made to prosecute a student who stole electronics equipment within days of the May 2009 theft, and school officials never wavered on that decision.

Christopher Powers of Hauppauge said he advised Lorraine Poppe, principal of John Kennedy High School in Bellmore that she had no choice but to prosecute Zachary Parker, the son of police benefactor Gary Parker.

"In late May 2009 the superintendent and the principal reached out to me" to ask if they should press charges against the teen, Powers testified in the misconduct trial of former Nassau 2nd Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan. "I said, 'This is $10,000 worth of equipment. You've got to go with this.' "

The school district's resolve, or lack of resolve, in that matter is key in the case against Flanagan.

Prosecutors say Flanagan and other police commanders failed to act on the school's order to prosecute because Gary Parker was a friend.

But lawyers for the police commanders said the school was ambivalent about its wish to prosecute, and that was the only reason for any hold up.

Zachary Parker was never arrested by the police, but prosecutors later presented his case to a grand jury, which indicted him.

He pleaded guilty to burglary charges and is serving 1 to 3 years in an upstate prison.

In his cross examination, Flanagan's lawyer, Bruce Barket questioned Powers about two emails sent by one of Flanagan's co-defendants in the case, retired-Seventh Precinct Squad Deputy Supervisor Alan Sharpe, saying that the school had chosen not to press charges.

Barket has previously pointed to emails by Poppe around the same time telling police to "hold off" on their investigation while school officials weighed their options.

The Garden City lawyer says that's evidence the school was unclear in its desire to press charges.

But Powers said the emails by Sharpe were "absolutely untrue."

"It seemed to me they were trying to get her [Poppe] to sign documents that she did not want to sign because it would end the prosecution," he testified.

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