Sen. Kevin Parker Convicted of Misdemeanor Charges
Yet another Senator in hot water, and one that we all know and love. (Sarcasm)
Today, the big local news in Brooklyn was the conviction of Kevin Parker, a man referred to as a “thug” by prosecutors. Here’s the story from the Times:
State Senator Kevin S. Parker was convicted of misdemeanor charges on Tuesday stemming from a confrontation with a photographer for The New York Post, but he was cleared of more serious felony assault charges.
Mr. Parker, a Brooklyn Democrat, was found guilty of two counts of criminal mischief for damaging a camera belonging to the photographer, William C. Lopez, when he confronted Mr. Lopez last year for taking pictures outside the home of the senator’s mother in East Flatbush.
The verdict in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn came one day after a former state senator, Vincent L. Leibell III, a Hudson Valley Republican, pleaded guilty to federal charges of tax evasion and obstruction of justice. He was accused of soliciting kickbacks from lawyers in his district.
While the jury’s verdict spares Mr. Parker expulsion from the Senate — the automatic penalty for a lawmaker convicted of a felony — Democrats and Republicans in the chamber may consider censure or another form of punishment.
In February, the Senate voted to expel Hiram Monserrate, a Queens Democrat, after he was convicted of misdemeanor assault for dragging his companion down the hallway of his apartment building.
Mr. Parker’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 27, and he could face as many as two years in prison, prosecutors said, though it was not clear if they would seek jail time.
“It’s not quite the determination I was hoping for,” Mr. Parker told reporters after the verdict. “I have always maintained my innocence.”
He was arrested in May 2009 after chasing down and confronting Mr. Lopez, who was on assignment to take pictures of him. Mr. Lopez was treated at a hospital for a bruised and swollen finger, which apparently became caught in a camera strap during the fracas, the police said.
Mr. Parker was charged with felony assault, criminal mischief and grand larceny, as well as misdemeanor charges of assault and criminal mischief. The jury returned guilty verdicts on two misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief.
One juror, Barry Keenan, 38, a vitamin salesman from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, said that the deliberations were calm and that the main debate among jurors revolved around whether Mr. Lopez’s camera was worth enough to merit a grand larceny charge against Mr. Parker.
“We were just concerned with the facts, the evidence, and that the prosecution couldn’t prove that it was a camera worth over $3,000,” Mr. Keenan said.
The special prosecutor assigned to the case, District Attorney Daniel M. Donovan Jr. of Staten Island, said in a statement that the verdict demonstrated that “no one is above the law.”
As a result of his arrest, Mr. Parker was stripped of his leadership positions in the Senate, costing him a $22,000 stipend on top of his $79,500 annual salary. But unlike Mr. Monserrate, who earned the enmity of his party for joining a coup effort that paralyzed the chamber for a month in 2009, Mr. Parker is close to the Senate Democratic leadership, and it was unclear how severely his colleagues would seek to punish him.
A spokesman for the Senate Democrats, Austin Shafran, suggested that Mr. Parker might not receive the same treatment as Mr. Monserrate because the crimes for which the two men were convicted — criminal mischief versus misdemeanor assault — were different.
“The severity of the actions that prompted Hiram Monserrate’s expulsion are a far cry from the circumstances in Senator Parker’s case,” Mr. Shafran said.
A spokesman for Senate Republicans, who are all but certain to hold a majority in the chamber next year, would not comment on whether the incoming leadership would seek to punish Mr. Parker.
But an ally of Mr. Monserrate’s, Senator Rubén Díaz Sr., a Bronx Democrat, challenged his colleagues to be consistent, taking particular aim at Eric T. Schneiderman, a Manhattan Democrat, who led the effort to expel Mr. Monserrate and is now the attorney general-elect.
“I’d like to know if my colleagues in the New York State Senate, especially those who consider themselves purists, plan to do something to Senator Kevin Parker now that he has been convicted of two misdemeanors,” Mr. Díaz said. “Will Senator Schneiderman be consistent and show us what a true hero he thinks he is by starting the same kind of Senate action he organized to kick Hiram Monserrate out for his one misdemeanor?”
A spokesman for Mr. Schneiderman said the senator could not comment because he had not yet reviewed Mr. Parker’s case.
Mr. Parker was first elected to the State Senate in 2002 and has been known for occasionally losing his temper. He was arrested in 2005 after, the police said, he punched a traffic agent in the face. The charges were dismissed, reportedly after he agreed to enroll in an anger management course.
Mr. Parker also erupted at a Republican colleague, Senator John A. DeFrancisco, during a hearing in April after Mr. DeFrancisco, who is white, questioned an African-American nominee to the New York Power Authority on statements the nominee had made about racial discrimination.