D.A. drops charges against NHP fire commissioner, son

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The Nassau County District Attorney’s office has dropped charges of grand larceny against New Hyde Park Fire Commissioner Michael Dolan and his son, Michael J. Dolan.

A spokesman for the D.A.’s office confirmed on Tuesday that the case against the Dolans for alleged theft of smoke detectors from New Hyde Park Fire Department headquarters had been dismissed following the release of statements by the Dolans on Tueday.

“The seriousness of the allegation resonated throughout our days during these past few months,” the elder Dolan said. “Our family, friends and neighbors, including firefighters alike, provided constant support and encouragement which carried us through. We are truly grateful to them all.”

Dolan’s son said, “I’m thrilled for us both that the truth was exposed and the truth prevailed.”

At the time of their arrest in July, Nassau County Police Department 3rd squad detectives said Michael Dolan, 68, and his son Michael J. Dolan, 32, both of 1736 Aladdin Avenue, had stolen 65 Kidde smoke detectors from a secured room in the New Hyde Park Fire Department headquarters located at 1555 Jericho Turnpike.

The two men allegedly took the smoke detectors from the fire department on June 21 at 7:30 a.m.

Police have declined to say what had led them to arrest the two men.

Both men were subsequently suspended from duty as volunteer firefighters in the department.

Beyond confirming that charges against the Dolans were dismissed, Chris Munzing, spokesman for county D.A. Kathleen Rice’s office, declined to comment on why the case was dropped.

“I don’t think this was a criminal action in any way shape or form and I think the actions of the D.A.’s office speak to that,” said Mineola attorney Christopher Devane, who represented the Dolans in the case. “They looked at it, they dismissed it and handled that in the proper way.”

Massapequa attorney Joseph Frank, who represented the New Hyde Park Fire District, offered no comment on the case.

New Hyde Park Fire Commissioner John Brown said the elder Dolan had been given 150 or 200 smoke detectors by the Nassau County Firefighters Museum, which was donating them to the New Hyde Park Fire Department. He delivered 100 detectors to the department, Brown said, then he and his son removed 82 of them from department headquarters several days later. A surveillance tape showed the Dolans removing the detectors from a secured area in the department headquarters, department officials said.

Brown said Dolan had no authority to do anything with the smoke detectors without permission from at least two of the other fire commissioners. Under the fire department’s program, the smoke detectors are donated from various sources for distribution to senior residents in need of them. 

Brown said the seniors receiving the detectors are supposed to pick the detectors up from department headquarters and fill out a form relieving the department of any liability in providing the smoke detectors.

When Brown said the fire commissioners confronted Dolan and told him he had no authority to take the  detectors, he returned them. But a couple of days later, Brown said, he took them again. He subsequently ignored a request from Rich Stein, chairman of the fire commissioners, to return the fire detectors, according to Brown. And when he failed to return them, the fire commissioners contacted the police.

Stein declined to comment on the case.

“He was told to return them and he didn’t, forcing us to act to protect the taxpayers,” Brown said. “We reported the smoke detectors stolen.”

Brown said a Nassau County Police 3rd Precinct detective investigating the case told Dolan to return the detectors “and the problem will go away.”

When Dolan and his son failed to return the smoke detectors, they were arrested, Brown said.

Nassau County Police 3rd Precinct Inspector Sean McCarthy could not be reached for comment on the case.

An assistant county District Attorney investigated the case, but Brown said the assistant D.A. did not speak to each of the fire commissioners about the case. He said the D.A.’s office recently notified the fire commissioners by letter about their decision to drop the case.

“It’s a legal system. It’s not a justice system,” Brown said.

He said Dolan has told the other fire commissioners more than once that he took the detectors.

“He admitted that he took them,” Brown said.

Brown declined to comment on possible departmental charges that the fire commissioners could still bring against Dolan in the case. He said a hearing officer had been hired to hear the case.

“I can’t trust this guy. I can’t trust what he’s doing,” Brown said.        

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