Hempstead Police Chief Among Four Facing Corruption Charges

Hempstead Police Department Chief Paul Johnson, Sgt. Joseph Savino, former Village Trustee Perry Pettus, and restaurant owner William Mendez have been hit with corruption charges for allegedly fixing tickets.

Hempstead Police

Hempstead Police

Photo Credit: Hempstead Police

The four appeared before a judge on Wednesday, May 1, where Johnson was charged with tampering with public records, grand larceny, official misconduct, obstructing governmental administration, criminal contempt and conspiracy. The chief pleaded not guilty. 

The incident drew Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas' attention after receiving community complaints of corruption and abuses of authority in Hempstead Village government and the Hempstead Police Department.

"My office began a long-term investigation that uncovered shocking allegations of corruption by a village trustee and the most senior police officials,” Singas said. “As crime in Nassau has reached record lows, violence has risen in Hempstead, and it is critical that leaders and the community collaborate to ensure that the public is served by an ethical government and protected by a professional and effective police force.”

According to the indictment, on May 16, 2018, an employee of Mendez was cited for four tickets by the Hempstead Police Department. Mendez, an associate of then-Village Trustee Perry Pettus, asked the trustee to fix the tickets for his employee.

Pettus called then-Lt. Paul Johnson of the Hempstead Police Department on the same day. described the tickets and told Johnson he would stop by the police department and show him the ticket numbers on his phone, the DA's Office said.

Johnson later allegedly told Pettus that the tickets would be fixed and Pettus then called Mendez to say, “They’re done. You don’t have to worry," the DA's Office said.

Between May 4 and May 15, 2018, Johnson had signed up to be interviewed for promotion to Assistant Chief or, alternatively, Deputy Chief of the Hempstead Police Department. A recent wave of retirements at the department created three vacancies that needed to be filled.

On May 25, 2018, Johnson was interviewed by Pettus and others for the positions. That evening, Pettus allegedly called Johnson and informed him that he would be promoted, the DA's Office said.

According to the indictment, Johnson allegedly told Pettus, “Ya know, if I can look out for you cause it’s something minor like a parking ticket, a traffic ticket, that’s one thing. But if you’re talking about criminal offenses and weapons and drugs and something, that’s something different.”

On June 5, 2018, Pettus voted to promote Johnson to Acting Chief of the Hempstead Police Department.

Johnson is additionally charged with ignoring a grand jury subpoena to produce the tickets that he allegedly fixed on behalf of Pettus and Mendez, the DA's Office said.

All four were released on their own recognizance. 

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