CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Thomas Spota, the former district attorney of Suffolk County, was found guilty Tuesday on charges he helped cover up a crime by a former police chief.
Spota, who wielded influence and power for 16 years as district attorney, was found guilty of charges of obstructing a federal civil rights investigation into the beating of a handcuffed prisoner by former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke.
Burke went to prison in 2016 for beating burglary suspect Christopher Loeb, a recovering heroin addict, who stole a duffel bag from Burke’s police vehicle. It contained Burke’s sex toys, pornography, cigars, gun belt and ammunition.
Burke then orchestrated an elaborate scheme to try to cover his actions. On Tuesday, a jury agreed Spota assisted in that cover-up.
Spota’s chief aide Christopher McPartland was also found guilty. They were accused of witness tampering and obstruction.
Spota and McPartland face up to 20 years in prison.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart released a statement following the verdict:
I want to thank the Eastern District of New York and the jury for their hard work in rendering a verdict today that sends a clear message that no one is above the law. All of us in law enforcement take an oath to uphold the Constitution and serve, not our own self-interests, but rather our communities. As we learned, the very people charged with upholding the law were the ones who were found guilty of assisting James Burke in his attempt to get away with his crime. Instead of being leaders and standing up for justice, they did their best to manipulate the system and everyone who stood in their way. The actions of former District Attorney Thomas Spota and his Chief Aide Christopher McPartland go against everything that this department stands for and it is unfortunate that their illegal activities could cast a negative light on the public’s perception of this police department. Instead of supporting the proud men and women of this department, this trio focused on corruption and cover-ups.
We have been monitoring this case closely and remain in contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District. We are also in the process of reviewing all of the testimony and evidence presented at trial, and upon further review will take appropriate action if warranted.
We want to assure members of the public that the current leadership of this department is committed to integrity, honesty and professionalism. I am continuously impressed by the work and level of commitment by our police officers and residents of this county should feel proud of their police department.