MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a grand jury has issued two separate indictments and charged Hempstead Police Department Chief Paul Johnson, Sergeant Joseph Savino, former Village Trustee Perry Pettus and restaurant owner William Mendez with allegedly fixing tickets.
Paul Johnson, 54, was arraigned today before Supervising Judge Teresa Corrigan and charged with:
The defendant was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court June 10.
Perry Pettus, 63, and William Mendez, 48, also known as Jito Malania and Leocadio Molino Rios, were arraigned today before Supervising Judge Teresa Corrigan and charged with:
The defendants were released on their own recognizance. Pettus is due back in court on May 7 and Mendez is due back in court on May 22.
If convicted of the top charge, the defendants face a maximum sentence of 2-1/3 years to seven years in prison.
“In response to 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,” DA 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. Our investigations are ongoing, and I am committed to working with the Hempstead community and our partners in government to find solutions that restore confidence and trust in government and the police force.”
DA Singas said that, 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-Lieutenant 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. 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.”
Between May 4 and May 15, 2018, Johnson had signed up to be interviewed for a 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 Trustee Pettus and others for the aforementioned positions. That evening, Pettus allegedly called Johnson and informed him that he would be promoted.
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.
In July, October and November of 2018 Pettus was arraigned on four separate grand jury indictments related to bribery and extortion schemes of local business owners, while Mendez was arraigned on two.
In one incident, Trustee Pettus allegedly accepted a bribe from Lieutenant Richard Holland on May 14, 2018. Pettus voted on June 5 to promote Holland to deputy chief of the department. That case is pending.
According to a separate indictment unsealed today, Pettus used his position as a Village Trustee to ask Joseph Savino, a Sergeant in the Hempstead Police Department, to fix tickets as a favor to Mendez. Savino allegedly disposed of two parking tickets issued to Mendez and a uniform traffic summons and complaint issued to an employee of Mendez.
On April 13, 2018 and April 14, 2018, Mendez allegedly called Pettus to complain that police officers from the Village of Hempstead had given him parking tickets. Pettus allegedly told Mendez to give him the tickets and said he would help him depending on the officer that wrote the tickets. Pettus allegedly informed Mendez that he would have to speak to a boss at the police department and determine if that boss would fix the tickets.
On April 15, 2018, Mendez allegedly called Pettus and again asked for help with a Department of Motor Vehicles Uniform Traffic Summons and Complaint that Mendez’s employee had received from a Hempstead Village Police officer. Pettus allegedly called the front desk of the department and Sgt. Joseph Savino answered the phone. Savino allegedly agreed to take care of the ticket for Mendez’s employee. Savino also allegedly disposed of the parking tickets issued to Mendez.
Joseph Savino, 51, was arraigned today before Supervising Judge Teresa Corrigan and charged with:
Pettus was arraigned today before Supervising Judge Teresa Corrigan and charged with:
The defendant was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court May 7.
Mendez was arraigned today before Supervising Judge Teresa Corrigan and charged with:
The defendant was released on his own recognizance and is due back in court May 22.
The cases are being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorneys Lisa Berk and Sarah Nadeau Balducci of DA Singas’ Public Corruption Bureau and Senior Investigative Counsel Stuart Levy of DA Singas’ Investigations Division.
Pettus is represented by Jim Druker, Esq. Mendez is represented by Bruce Barket, Esq. and Johnson is represented by Ronald Bekoff, Esq. and Savino is represented by Scott Carrigan, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.