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Ex-Islip Public Safety head John Carney sentenced for coercion

John Carney, right, former Islip Public Safety commissioner,

John Carney, right, former Islip Public Safety commissioner, and his attorney, James Pascarella, at State Supreme Court in Central Islip on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2017. Credit: James Carbone

A former Islip Town public safety commissioner was sentenced Thursday to community service for his convictions stemming from a coercion scheme involving Civil Service hiring.

Jurors after nearly four full days of deliberations in April found John J. Carney guilty of three misdemeanor coercion charges for forcing Islip fire marshal job candidates to sign letters declining the positions in order to reach favored provisional candidates who had scored lower on a Civil Service exam.

State Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho, who presided over Carney’s trial during which nine prosecution witnesses and one defense witness testified over a three-day period, delivered the sentence in his Central Islip courtroom.

Camacho said it was “a sad day for Mr. Carney and a sad day that it came to this,” adding: “The people in the community deserve a fair shot to get these taxpayer-paid jobs.”

Carney will avoid jail time and probation, but has been ordered to pay the maximum fine for each count, at $1,000 a piece, totaling $3,000, prosecutors said. Camacho’s sentence included six months in jail for each count to be served concurrently as community service.

“This has impacted my whole life and my whole family,” Carney said to Camacho before he was sentenced. “I’m sorry that this had to come to this. I’m really sorry if this hurt anybody.”

Carney’s attorney, James Pascarella of Mineola, said outside court he plans to appeal his client’s conviction.

“While we agree with most of the jury verdict, we disagree with the three misdemeanors he was convicted of,” Pascarella said. “As far as his sentence, we asked for community service, so in that regard, we’re satisfied and happy with the judge’s decision. He has been just and fair to Mr. Carney.”

Assistant district attorneys Kevin Ward and Angelo Macaluso outside court referred questions to Robert Clifford, spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney’s office. Clifford did not respond to an email.

Carney, along with Michael Allen, who was an Islip assistant chief fire marshal when the crimes were committed, was indicted on Sept. 13 and 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.

Carney was acquitted on the top four felony bribe-receiving charges as well as nine misdemeanor charges, including four official misconduct and five other coercion counts.

Both Carney and Allen had been released on their own recognizance after they pleaded not guilty at their arraignments last year.

Allen entered a conditional guilty plea in July to a misdemeanor coercion charge the day before jury selection for a trial was scheduled to begin.

Allen must complete 140 hours of community service work within one year while staying out of legal trouble, and then the misdemeanor charge will be reduced to a noncriminal violation.

After the indictment, Allen was placed on modified administrative duty. An Islip Town spokeswoman has not commented on his current employment with the town, citing “personnel matters.”

Carney had been offered a plea deal before his trial began but he declined to accept its terms. A week before he was indicted, Carney, citing health reasons, resigned from his commissioner position.

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