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Suspect in cop scandal admits school theft

Zachary Parker, the Bellmore man at the center

Zachary Parker, the Bellmore man at the center of a scandal that led to the indictment of three high-ranking Nassau police officials, leaves Nassau County court after receiving 5 years probation. (March 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The 20-year-old Merrick man at the center of a scandal that resulted in misconduct charges against three Nassau County police commanders pleaded guilty Friday to charges related to a high school burglary.

Zachary Parker will be spared jail time when he's sentenced May 18 on charges that he stole video equipment from John F. Kennedy High School in Bellmore in May 2009.

Judge John Kase agreed to place Parker on probation for five years for third-degree burglary and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property.

Kase granted Parker youthful offender status over the objection of prosecutors and suspended the defendant's driver's license for the probation period.

In two unrelated Nassau cases, Parker also faces felony and misdemeanor drug possession charges. Those cases will be resolved separately, said Parker's attorney, Marc Gann.

Prosecutors said Parker stole electronic equipment valued at $11,000 from the high school. His guilty plea also included charges that he possessed more than $3,000 in stolen property between April and June 2009.

A derailed police investigation into the burglary is at the heart of the misconduct case.

The Nassau district attorney said Gary Parker, a police department benefactor, asked police officials to drop the investigation involving his son.

William Flanagan, second deputy commissioner; John Hunter, deputy chief of patrol; and Alan Sharpe, commander of the Seventh Precinct Squad, retired before their indictments were unsealed March 1. They are accused of official misconduct and conspiracy.

Gann said outside the courtroom Friday that his client is distraught that the former police officials' careers have been "affected by his conduct."

"There was never an expectation that anyone would do anything improper or illegal in trying to assist Zach Parker, and I don't think they did," Gann said.

Attorney Bruce Barket of Garden City, who represents Flanagan, noted that youthful offender status allows Zachary Parker to keep the burglary-related charges off his record.

"It appears that after the circus of the last three weeks, the criminal justice system concluded that the teenage boy who committed this petty theft was not worthy of a criminal conviction -- a conclusion that was reached by experienced, trained police officers nearly three years ago," Barket said.

Parker surrendered last year and was arraigned Oct. 7, after a grand jury indicted him on the burglary charge.

The indictment against the Nassau police commanders alleges that they helped to return the stolen merchandise and prevent the arrest of Zachary Parker.

Gary Parker "paid for lunches and dinners for high-ranking members of law enforcement from Nassau County and other agencies," the indictment states, adding that Hunter and Flanagan frequently attended them.

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