Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and his aide, Christopher McPartland, were convicted Tuesday on federal charges of covering up the beating of a suspect by former police chief James Burke.
Charges included conspiracy, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and acting as accessories to the deprivation of the suspect’s civil rights.
Spota of Mount Sinai and McPartland, 53, a Northport resident, face up to 20 years in prison.
Burke pleaded guilty in 2016 to beating Christopher Loeb, who had broken into Burke’s SUV in 2012 and stolen a bag containing ammunition, a gun belt, sex toys and pornography. Burke was a long-time associate of Spota’s.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the verdicts. “When a sitting District Attorney and the Chief of the Government Corruption Bureau attempt to obstruct a federal grand jury investigation, it is nothing short of an attack on the justice system itself, and it will not be tolerated by the Justice Department. As prosecutors, the defendants were obligated to support the law they enforce, but the criminal actions taken by these men made a mockery of that obligation. Thankfully, the rule of law has prevailed, and the defendants now must face the consequences of their actions, just like any other defendant who has broken the law,” Donoghue said.
A number of police officers who were aware of the beating or coverup left the force or became prosecution witnesses against Spota and McPartland.
Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said after the conviction, “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 want to assure members of the public that the current leadership of this department is committed to integrity, honesty and professionalism,” she added. “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.”