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Cecilia DowdJul 31, 2018, 4:57 pmAug 8, 2018, 5:21 pm

Hempstead village trustee accused of extorting over $25K from local businesses

Perry Pettus and businessman William Mendez allegedly targeted Hispanic entrepreneurs

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MINEOLA — An elected official on Long Island has been arrested and charged with betraying the trust of those they took the oath to serve.

Hempstead Village Trustee Perry Pettus and William Mendez are both facing a slew of charges in an alleged bribe and extortion scheme. Pettus and his associate, Mendez, allegedly targeted Hispanic-owned businesses. Raking in more than $25,000 in bribe money by shaking down bars and restaurants, prosecutors say.

Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas says it's hard enough to get through all the regulations for businesses.

“And it's impossible when you have officials like Pettus and Mendez at the top dictating what you can and can't do for personal profit,” Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said. “That's why the conduct charged in this indictment, taking bribes, ordering police and enforcement agencies to target some businesses and protect others, is truly despicable.”

The district attorney says business permits and licenses were fast-tracked for him thanks to Pettus's position. Using Hempstead village employees, Pettus allegedly helped Mendez increase the occupancy of one of his restaurants, El Pacifico in Hempstead.

“On one intercepted call, Pettus allegedly told Mendez that he would be set for life if Pettus became mayor,” Singas said.

Both defense attorneys declined to speak. Pettus spoke briefly on his walk to court:

“Let the court make the decision. We have a very good court system,” Pettus said.

Pettus allegedly had different identities on him at the time of his arrest and the prosecutor in court said, "We really don't know his true identity."

Pettus, who was released on his own recognizance, is also accused of sharing police info on an MS-13 operative with Mendez.

Both defendants pleaded not guilty.

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