Support for Rockville Centre Police Officer Anthony Federico, who pleaded not guilty on March 8 to charges including felony assault against village resident Kevin Kavanagh and falsifying police records, remains strong with lawn signs declaring, “We Support Officer Federico,” posted around the village and in surrounding communities, and various events held to raise funds for Federico’s defense.
The most recent, a fundraiser at Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall in Wantagh on June 20, was attended by more than 1,000 people, Rockville Centre Police Benevolent Association President Jim Carty said. The PBA also created 250 limited-edition coins — with “Truth For Anthony” above an American flag with a blue stripe — that were sold at the event.
“I’ve been doing this for 23 years now,” Carty said, “and it’s astounding the turnout that we’ve had.”
Federico is still working for the Police Department, but is on modified status and working a desk, according to the village. Carty said that Federico is unable to earn as much overtime pay as before, and added that defense fees for the criminal case will exceed $100,000.
“I don’t have numbers for you, that’s not what it’s about,” Carty said of the amount raised to date. “We’re just trying to get Anthony whatever we can, but I think we’ve pretty much covered his legal expenses.”
At a rally the day Federico was indicted, members of various PBAs showed their support for the officer, who has worked in the village for three years after an eight-year stint with the New York City Police Department. A day afterward, the Rockville Centre PBA set up a fundraising committee, according to Carty. A website called “The Truth for Anthony” was created to help Federico, who the site says is “faced with loss of wages and staggering legal fees associated with defending himself against these unjust charges by the Nassau County D.A.’s office.”
Other Long Island PBAs have supported Federico, Carty said, as have groups around the country, including Blue Lives Matter and the National Center for Police Defense. The Nassau County Police Department’s hockey team donated proceeds from a May 20 charity game with the Suffolk Police Department to the fund.
“I am happy to support Anthony Federico and the Rockville Centre PBA,” said Jeff Greenfield, a Rockville Centre resident who donated for last month’s event at Mulcahy’s. “It’s a tough job they have to do on the streets in our overactive night life in the downtown of the village. I’m disappointed in the D.A.’s indictment of a police officer.”
According to District Attorney Madeline Singas, Federico used excessive force when he allegedly struck Kavanagh on the head with his Taser on May 8, 2016, causing a six-centimeter laceration that required sutures and staples to close. Federico was responding to a bar fight on South Park Avenue, near Merrick Road, in Rockville Centre.
In April, a cell phone video surfaced that showed the confrontation. The video, taken by a witness outside the local bar at around 2:30 a.m., appeared to show Federico push Kavanagh’s younger brother, Brendan, into a corner. Brendan reached out and put his hands on the back of Federico’s neck, before the officer knocked him to the ground. As Brendan was falling, Kevin tried to kick Federico, who then grabbed Kevin, punched him a number of times, repeatedly shocked him with a Taser and struck him on the head with it.
Shortly after the video was released, Federico’s criminal defense attorney, William Petrillo, said that he had evidence indicating that Kevin Kavanagh had tested positive for cocaine and had a blood alcohol content of .20 on the night of the incident. Kavanagh was charged with assaulting Federico and resisting arrest, while his brother was accused of resisting arrest, obstructing law enforcement and possessing fake identification, according to village police records.
However, Joseph Dell, the Garden City attorney representing the brothers in their civil case against Federico, said the criminal charges against the two have been dropped.
Dell said in April that Federico must have assumed his clients were the aggressors of the fight, but that they were the victims instead. He has also said what was in their bodies should not have led to the assault by Federico.
Frank Schroeder, an attorney representing Federico in a civil lawsuit filed by the Kavanaghs, said the charges have been hard on Federico and his family, and called him a victim of “Monday-morning quarterbacking.”
“Officer Federico is extremely grateful for the support that he has received from the village of Rockville Centre, his own Police Department and police officers nationwide,” Schroeder said. “But the thing that has touched him most is that he has the very enthusiastic support of so many residents of Rockville Centre, and between the lawn signs and just a lot of words of encouragement… it means an awful lot to him.”
A spokesman from the D.A. did not comment on the case. Federico faces up to seven years if he is convicted, and is due back in court on Aug. 2.