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Undercover officer testifies in 'Flush the Johns' case

Nicholas Sisti, of Mineola, one of the 104

Nicholas Sisti, of Mineola, one of the 104 men arrested in the "Flush the Johns" sting last year, appears before Judge Rhonda Fischer in First District Court in Hempstead on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. Credit: Howard Schnapp

An undercover Nassau County police officer who posed as a prostitute said she was certain of the identity of one the men accused of soliciting her for sex because he was short and he was the only one of the dozens she arrested who expressed an interest in Asian women.

Officer Donna Gilson said Wednesday she was sure that Nicholas Sisti of Mineola was one of the 35 to 40 men she arrested as part of the "Flush the Johns" prostitution sting last spring because of "his height" and because on the phone call to set up the hotel room meeting, he was "extremely adamant about . . . [her] being Asian."

Her testimony came on the third day of Sisti's nonjury trial before Judge Rhonda Fischer in First District Court in Hempstead on a misdemeanor charge of patronizing a prostitute. Sisti, 51, who has a doctorate in organic chemistry and has a Connecticut law license, has said through his attorney, Mark Panzavecchia, that he was only seeking a massage.

In sometimes testy exchanges Wednesday, Panzavecchia challenged Gilson's recollection of what happened on the day of the arrest, May 14, 2013, and said her testimony differed, at least in part, from police and court documents on the case.

Panzavecchia's cross-examination of the officer was scheduled to continue Thursday following a court day Wednesday that started late because of the weather.

Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice's office has said 10 of the 104 men arrested in the overall "Flush the Johns" operation last year pleaded guilty, one was acquitted in a nonjury trial, one was dismissed with the agreement of prosecutors and there have been five other dismissals that prosecutors are seeking to reargue.


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