A Suffolk County judge has been appointed to oversee the corruption case of three former Nassau County police commanders accused of conspiring to stop the arrest of a benefactor's son.
Mark Cohen, a Court of Claims judge and acting Supreme Court justice overseeing criminal cases in Riverhead, will take over the case effective immediately, the state court spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The announcement came a day after Nassau's chief administrative judge requested a judge from outside the county "to ensure impartiality and fairness" in the case.
In the last two months, two Nassau judges assigned to oversee the case have recused themselves.
According to the indictment, retired Second Deputy Commissioner William Flanagan, retired Deputy Chief of Patrol John Hunter and retired Seventh Precinct Squad Deputy Cmdr. Alan Sharpe conspired to stop the arrest of Zachary Parker, who stole about $11,000 worth of electronic equipment from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in May 2009.
A spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice declined to comment on Cohen's appointment.
Bruce Barket, a lawyer for Flanagan, expressed bafflement at the need for an outside judge. He said Cohen is "experienced and knowledgeable and fair."
"But we have judges like that in Nassau, too," Barket said. "The real question remains why?"
Cohen has served as a claims judge since 2006. He worked on Homeland Security issues for then-Gov. George Pataki and was a Suffolk prosecutor from 1976 to 2001.
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.