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Lawyer: Toss charges for 3rd police official

A file photo of William Flanagan, pictured leaving

A file photo of William Flanagan, pictured leaving the Nassau County Court in Mineola. (March 1, 2012) Credit: Howard Schnapp

The lawyer for a former high-ranking Nassau police commander accused of derailing the arrest of a police benefactor's son is asking a judge to investigate why some evidence was not shown to the grand jury that indicted his client.

Bruce Barket, of Garden City, who represents retired Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan, said in legal papers filed Tuesday that Nassau County Judge John Kase should throw out the indictment against his client because the district attorney did not show the grand jury a series of emails that cast doubt on the charges against Flanagan and his two co-defendants.

The co-defendants -- retired Deputy Chief of Patrol John Hunter and retired Seventh Precinct Squad Deputy Cmdr. Alan Sharpe -- filed motions to dismiss Monday.

The three were indicted in March on charges of conspiracy and official misconduct after prosecutors said they stopped Zachary Parker, 20, of Merrick, the son of a wealthy police supporter, from being arrested in connection with the theft of about $11,000 in audiovisual equipment in 2009 from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore.

"If they got the emails before the indictment, that raises serious questions about the propriety of their ethical conduct," Barket said about the district attorney. "If they failed to acquire them, it raises questions about the thoroughness of the investigation."

John Byrne, a spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, said he hasn't received Flanagan's motion but prosecutors remain sure of the case.

"These officers illegally conspired to prevent the arrest of a police benefactor's son who stole more than $11,000 worth of electronics," he said. "We remain confident in the case against them."

Barket said in court papers that the prosecutors told him the school district never gave prosecutors the emails. He says he hopes an investigation will show what happened.

The emails, written by Principal Lorraine Poppe just two days after she filed her initial complaint about the burglary, were uncovered by a subpoena filed by Sharpe's defense attorney, Anthony Grandinette of Mineola.

The messages, sent to the Bellmore-Merrick district superintendent and the lead detective in the case, say Poppe told police to "put everything on hold" until further notice and show that school officials were unsure whether they wanted Parker arrested or would handle the matter internally.

This seems to contradict the indictment, which says that the day before Poppe sent the emails, she told a detective that "she would not consider the withdrawal of criminal charges against the target." Poppe later refused to sign a nonprosecution agreement against Parker and has said that she never directed police not to prosecute.

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