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Former Islip commissioner seeks documents in bribery case

Former Town of Islip public safety commissioner John

Former Town of Islip public safety commissioner John J. Carney on Oct. 18, 2013. Carney will face a criminal trial in April 2017 on charges that he and Michael A. Allen, an Islip Town assistant chief fire marshal at the time of the alleged crimes, coerced four individuals to decline town fire marshal job offers, prosecutors said. Credit: Steve Pfost

The defense attorney representing a former Islip Town public safety commissioner is fighting for access to town documents and statements gleaned by the district attorney’s office that he believes would prove his client’s innocence.

John J. Carney, the former commissioner, will face a criminal trial this month on charges that he and Michael A. Allen, an Islip Town assistant chief fire marshal at the time of the alleged crimes, coerced four individuals to decline town fire marshal job offers so candidates who placed lower on the Civil Service list would get the jobs, prosecutors have said.

Carney’s attorney, James Pascarella of Mineola, wrote a letter to state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho asking for any statements, oral or written, given by 19 civil service candidates to district attorney investigators who said they had declined job offers but that they were not coerced, Camacho said in court Wednesday.

Camacho said it is “the people’s position that they legitimately declined the position for whatever reason.”

“Mr. Pascarella believes those would be exculpatory,” Camacho said. “I will review those documents and investigators notes ... and if I believe anything is exculpatory, I will turn it over to Mr. Pascarella. If not, I will put it in a sealed file for possible appellate review down the road.”

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Ward said in court he “does not anticipate calling those people as witnesses” and does not believe the statements should be turned over as Brady material, which is categorized as information that could lead to showing guilt or innocence of a defendant.

Pascarella, outside of court, said: “I’m just looking for what I feel we’re entitled to in the law.” He declined to comment further.

Carney and Allen were indicted Sept. 13, each charged with four class-D felonies of third-degree bribe receiving, and 12 class-A misdemeanors — four counts of official misconduct and eight counts of second-degree coercion. The felony charges each carry a maximum prison sentence of 2 1⁄3 to 7 years, prosecutors have said. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges and were released on their own recognizance at their arraignments.

Camacho will also be reviewing a “voluminous” set of documents prepared by the Islip Town attorney’s office from a defense subpoena request. Some of the documents have been given to Pascarella but the town is asserting attorney-client privilege on others.

Carney resigned from his commissioner position a week before the indictment, citing health reasons. After he was indicted, Allen was demoted to his previous title of Fire Marshal II and placed on administrative duty.

Plea offers extended from prosecutors to both Carney and Allen on Nov. 30 — offers that did not include jail time but would have mandated community service — have not been accepted.

Carney’s case will resume on Tuesday, when Camacho is expected to give his decisions on the applications for Pascarella’s access to the documents and investigator’s notes and interviews. Because of the lingering issues, jury selection, initially slated for Tuesday, has been pushed back to Wednesday. The trial will start the next week, Camacho said.

Allen, who is also due back in court on Tuesday, will be tried separately at a later date. A trial date has not been set because he was ill and had undergone surgery, Camacho has said.

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