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Outside judge sought in cop corruption case

The Nassau County Court House is located on

The Nassau County Court House is located on Old County Road in the village of Mineola. (June 26, 2012) Credit: Amy Onorato

Nassau's top administrative judge asked Monday that a judge from outside the county be brought in to oversee the corruption case of three former police commanders accused of conspiring to stop the arrest of a benefactor's son.

The announcement came just four days after a second judge assigned to preside over the case recused himself, declining to give a reason.

Court spokesman Dan Bagnuola said Nassau's chief administrative judge, Anthony Marano, "requested that a judge from outside the county be assigned to the case to ensure impartiality and fairness, and the appearance of impartiality and fairness."

Nassau Judge George Peck abruptly recused himself from the case on Thursday without stating a reason after handling it for about two months.

In May, Judge John Kase, the first judge assigned to the police corruption case, recused himself, saying he has been friends with former Nassau police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey for about five years.

Mulvey headed the police department at the time when the three defendants in the case -- retired Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan, retired Deputy Chief of Patrol John Hunter and retired Seventh Precinct Squad Deputy Cmdr. Alan Sharpe -- allegedly took part in the misconduct.

William Petrillo, a lawyer for Hunter, said Marano's order is unexpected.

"Having represented law enforcement officials in the past where local judges presided over the case, it is unusual that we would have to seek a judge from another jurisdiction," he said.

He said he still wants to know why Peck recused himself.

"It doesn't matter to us who the judge is," Petrillo said. "However, the events of the last week and the sudden recusal of the last judge remain a mystery, and we're interested in learning the reasons."

A spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice declined to comment on Marano's announcement.

According to the indictment, the conspiracy stemmed from Zachary Parker's theft of about $11,000 worth of electronic equipment from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in May 2009.

Parker, 20, of Merrick, pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property charges and was sentenced to five years' probation last month.

All three men maintain their innocence.

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