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Randy White files notice of claim against Nassau County, police

The man at the center of a scandal that led to the resignation of Nassau County's police commissioner has filed notice that he will pursue legal action against the county and its police force. Frederick A. Brewington, the attorney for Randy A. White, the man in the middle of the controversy, said Monday he has filed a notice of claim against the county and its police force. Videojournalist: Howard Schnapp (Jan. 6, 2014)

The man whose arrest led to the resignation of Nassau County's police commissioner has filed notice that he will pursue legal action against the county and its police force, his attorney said Monday.

Frederick A. Brewington, the attorney for Randy A. White, 29, of Roosevelt, released a copy of the notice of claim he filed Thursday with Nassau County that seeks unspecified monetary damages for violations of White's civil rights.

Brewington, at a news conference with his client by his side, said White suffered -- among other things -- embarrassment, humiliation, loss of freedom, malicious prosecution and pain and suffering during and following his arrest Oct. 5 on an open warrant for failing to pay a $250 fine from a prior misdemeanor conviction for selling bootleg DVDs.

Brewington said White was "arrested under false pretense, coerced, intimidated, falsely accused, maliciously jailed and subjected to . . . mental abuse."

The handling of the White arrest was unusual in itself, Brewington said, and he said he has been unable to get an explanation why White was taken to the Nassau County jail after being arrested and before being taken to court to appear on the warrant.

Suspects are usually taken to a local precinct, then to police headquarters in Mineola for booking and then to First District Court in Hempstead.

At the East Meadow jail, White was subjected to two strip searches and two cavity searches, Brewington said. After appearing in court, he was released. Police declined to comment Monday.

An investigation by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice last month concluded that it was "unusual" and "potentially fraught with peril," but not criminal, for Thomas Dale, then the police commissioner, to have directed officers to arrest White.

White had been a witness in a court proceeding about the nominating petitions of former Freeport Mayor Andrew Hardwick, who was running for county executive as a third-party candidate. White had testified the Hardwick campaign paid him $1.25 per signature he collected. Petitioners legally can be paid per hour, but not per signature. Hardwick denied White's claim.

During the court dispute, Hardwick's chief financial supporter, Oheka Castle owner Gary Melius, telephoned Dale to tell him the Hardwick campaign wanted to file a perjury charge against White.

After reviewing the complaint, police declined to charge White. Rice said that as part of their investigation, police performed a standard criminal background check on White and found an outstanding warrant for his arrest for failing to pay the $250. Dale "then ordered that Mr. White be located and arrested," Rice's report said.

Democrats said the Hardwick candidacy was an attempt to siphon votes from the Democratic candidate for Nassau County executive, Thomas Suozzi, and help Republican incumbent Edward Mangano.

The investigation by Rice led to the resignation of Dale and the retirement of the chief of detectives, John Capece.

Brewington also reiterated a request made Dec. 17 by Democratic county legislators that the handling of the arrest be investigated by federal prosecutors.

The attorney said Rice, a Democrat who ran for state attorney general in 2010, should step aside because of "the interplay of current and future political aspirations, and the closeness to the local political parties. . . "

Rice's office declined any comment beyond what she said in response to the legislator last month. At that time, she said she had worked hard to make the criminal justice system fair.

She said that "no criminal justice official in Nassau has worked harder to make the system more fair," and that her investigations "will always be guided by facts and provable evidence rather than politics."Also Monday, a coalition of state and Nassau officials and activists held a news conference at City Hall in Manhattan calling for state and federal prosecutors to investigate.

"The only way we can determine the truth in what seems to be a gross injustice is through the work of a special prosecutor," said Assemb. Karim Camara (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the state Legislature's Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.

With Laura Figueroa

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