Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota and Christopher McPartland, the former Chief of Investigations and Head of the Government Corruption Office of the Suffolk County Prosecutor’s Office (SCDAO), have each been convicted today by US District Judge Joan M. Azrack, to five years in prison. In addition, Spota was ordered to pay a fine of $ 100,000.
The sentences stem from the convictions of the defendants on December 17, 2019, after a six-week federal jury trial, on all four counts; in particular, conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and obstruct formal proceedings, tampering with witnesses, obstructing justice and being an afterthought of the former chief of the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), James Burke, deprivation of civil rights of a prisoner.
Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Jacqueline Maguire, acting deputy director in charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the sentences.
“When a sitting district attorney and one of his senior prosecutors are corrupt and use their power to intimidate witnesses and cover up a brutal assault by a senior law enforcement official, they not only jeopardize the security of citizens who are entitled to protection. of the law, they also undermine confidence in the integrity and fairness of our criminal justice system, ”Acting US Prosecutor Kasulis said. “Instead of serving the people of Suffolk County, these defendants brazenly abused their exceptional position of power and the public trust to protect their friends and hurt their enemies. With today’s sentences, justice has been served and the defendants have learned the consequences of their crimes, just like anyone else who broke the law. I salute the tenacity and skill of the prosecutors in this office and FBI special agents in removing the accused from their prominent undeserved positions and holding them to account for their reprehensible breaches of public trust. “
“With great power comes great responsibility – and, as we have proven throughout this investigation, Mr. Spota and Mr. McPartland have abused their power to circumvent their responsibility to comply with a federal inquiry into the civil rights. They raised fears of retaliation in the minds of those who would otherwise have been willing to cooperate, and they hampered the efforts of federal investigators trying to shed light on a heinous crime. Their behavior was scandalous, and their convictions prove it today. There is absolutely no place for this type of behavior in our criminal justice system. Those who abuse their power and subject others to cruel and unnecessary punishment must be excluded from all official office and must pay the price for their conduct. Only then, and with today’s penalties, can the deserved trust of the citizens of Suffolk County be rightly restored, said FBI Acting Deputy Director Maguire .
In December 2012, then SCPD chief James Burke – the highest uniformed police officer in Suffolk County – physically and verbally assaulted a shackled prisoner, Christopher Loeb, who was under arrest and being held in a ward. ‘interrogation at 4e City of Hauppauge, New York. Loeb broke into Burke’s official police vehicle and stole his belt and ammunition, as well as a gym bag containing cigars, sex toys, prescription Viagra and pornography. After the assault, Burke ordered high-ranking SCPD lieutenants to ensure that detectives and officers who witnessed the assault would never reveal what they observed. Burke also enlisted the help of his longtime mentor, then District Attorney Spota, and McPartland, his personal friend and then head of investigations and the government’s Corruption Office, to make sure the witnesses were silent. . Having served as a Suffolk County District Attorney for over a decade, Spota had successfully helped Burke regularly avoid legal trouble during their decades-long friendship. McPartland, who worked directly under Spota, had also formed a close friendship with Burke and was the first person Burke called the morning he found out his vehicle had been broken into.
A federal grand jury investigation into Loeb’s assault as a deprivation of civil rights was opened by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, with assistance from the FBI, in the spring of 2013. Burke, Spota, and McPartland used the power and influence of their official positions. , and the threat of arrest and retaliatory prosecution, to prevent anyone from cooperating in this investigation. Due to their obfuscation efforts, the federal investigation failed and was closed approximately eight months later. Local law enforcement eyewitnesses had been silenced as they feared reprisals against themselves and their families from the Suffolk County Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office. About a year later, prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Long Island Criminal Division reopened the investigation. While some key witnesses were then compelled to testify before the grand jury under immunity, the truth about Burke’s assault on Loeb eventually emerged.
Burke pleaded guilty to violating civil rights and conspiring to obstruct justice in February 2016 and was sentenced to 46 months in prison. Spota and McPartland both resigned from the district attorney’s office in light of the charges against them and have since been struck off.
The government’s case is handled by the Long Island Criminal Division of the Bureau. United States Deputy Prosecutors Nicole Boeckmann, Lara Treinis Gatz, Justina L. Geraci and Michael R. Maffei are charged with the prosecution.
THOMAS J. SPOTA
Mount Sinai, New York
Age: 55 years old
Northport, New York
EDNY file n ° 17-CR-587 (JMA)