Longtime Suffolk County, N.Y., District Attorney Thomas Spota and one of his chief aides have been indicted on federal charges that they were involved in a cover-up of former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke’s assault of a suspect in 2012, reports Newsday. Spota, a Democrat who was first elected as a corruption fighter, and his aide, Christopher McPartland, who runs the political corruption unit, pleaded not guilty Wednesday at a brief arraignment. Both were released on $500,000 bond. They showed no emotion before the packed courtroom.
Spota, McPartland, Burke and other members of the Suffolk County PD “had numerous meetings and telephone conversations wherein they discussed the assault,” the victim’s allegations against Burke, and the federal investigation, prosecutors said in a letter to the judge asking for strict bail conditions. They “agreed to conceal Burke’s role in the assault and to obstruct and attempt to obstruct the federal investigation in order to protect Burke,” prosecutors said in the letter. Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde said in the letter that Spota and McPartland have “demonstrated their utter contempt for the laws they were charged with upholding.” The cover-up concerned the assault by Burke on Christopher Loeb, who stole a duffel bag from the chief’s department SUV, parked in front of Burke’s home in December 2012. Burke, a longtime Spota protégé and close friend of McPartland, is serving a 46-month federal sentence for violating Loeb’s civil rights, then engaging in obstruction of justice by orchestrating a cover-up.