William Mendez targeted Hispanic-owned businesses, soliciting more than $150,000 in bribes
Related public corruption cases against three high-ranking Hempstead Police Department members are currently pending
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Acting Nassau County District Attorney Joyce A. Smith announced that a Hempstead restauranteur was sentenced today to 1-1/3 to four years in prison on bribe receiving and other charges for his role in soliciting more than $150,000 in bribes from Hempstead restaurant owners.
William Mendez, 50, of Elmont, pleaded guilty on March 15, 2021 to two counts of bribe receiving in the second degree (a C felony), two counts of grand larceny in the second degree by means of extortion (a C felony), conspiracy in the fourth degree (an E felony) and two counts of tampering with public records in the second degree (an A misdemeanor) and conspiracy in the fifth degree (an A misdemeanor). Mendez was sentenced to 1-1/3 to four years in prison and signed a judgement in the amount of $35,000. NCDA recommended 3-1/3 to 10 years in prison.
“William Mendez victimized countless Hispanic-owned restaurants in Hempstead, intimidating and harassing owners into paying bribes by threatening to strip them of essential cabaret and liquor licenses, and issuing summonses that could force them out of business,” Acting DA Smith said. “Today’s sentence holds Mendez accountable for his corrupt actions and begins to make these small-businesses whole after the financial strain they suffered as a result of Mendez’s extortion.”
Mendez’s co-defendant and former Hempstead Village Trustee Perry Pettus pleaded guilty for his role with Mendez, and in other cases, and was sentenced to 2-1/3 years to seven years in prison on January 14, 2020.
Acting DA Smith said that according to indictment 1208N-2018, between February 2018 and May 2018, former Hempstead Village Trustee Perry Pettus used his position and authority as a deputy mayor and trustee of the village to solicit more than $50,000 in bribes from Hempstead restauranteurs by threatening to have summonses issued that would jeopardize the restaurants’ business, cabaret and liquor licenses, thereby forcing the restaurants out of business. William Mendez, Pettus’s accomplice - a local restaurant and bar owner in the Village of Hempstead - collected the payments from the victims and delivered them to Pettus.
According to indictment 1601N-2018, from June 2017 to September 2018, Pettus used his position and authority as a deputy mayor and trustee of the village to solicit more than $50,000 in bribes using William Mendez as an intermediary with Hispanic-owned restauranteurs by threatening to have summonses issued that would jeopardize the restaurants’ business, cabaret and liquor licenses, thereby forcing the restaurants out of business. Pettus and Mendez, acting in concert, targeted Hispanic-owned businesses as part of their extortion scheme.
According to indictment 715N-2019, from May 16, 2018, to June 5, 2018, Pettus used his position and authority as a trustee of the village to fix tickets for an employee of Mendez. Pettus allegedly 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.”
According to indictment 716N-2019, from April 13, 2018, to April 16, 2018, Pettus used his position 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.
In a related investigation, Pettus allegedly accepted a bribe from Hempstead PD Lieutenant Richard Holland on May 14, 2018. Pettus voted on June 5 of that year to promote Holland to deputy chief of the department.
The cases against Johnson, Holland, and Savino are still pending.
Senior Investigative Counsel Lisa Berk and Senior Assistant District Attorney Sarah Nadeau Balducci of NCDA's Public Corruption Bureau are prosecuting this case.
Pettus is represented by Jim Druker, Esq., Mendez is represented by Bruce Barket, Esq., Johnson is represented by Ronald Bekoff, Esq. and Savino is represented by Scott Carrigan, Esq. Holland is represented by Jerald Carter, Esq.
The charges against the remaining defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.