Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota has been indicted for obstruction of justice after a federal probe into an alleged cover-up of police brutality committed by former Suffolk County police chief James Burke, a longtime friend of the District Attorney.
Newsday reports that Spota, who announced earlier this year he would not be seeking re-election, and a top aide have been charged with witness tampering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Burke, who was the chief of police during critical early years of the Long Island Serial Killer investigation, is currently serving a prison sentence after pleading guilty to beating and threatening a suspect. The victim, Christopher Loeb, stole a duffel bag from Burke’s vehicle that is believed to have carried pornography and sex toys.
Thomas Spota, Suffolk County district attorney, was charged with witness tampering and obstructing an investigation. https://t.co/jpIJzW8VIn
— NYT Metro (@NYTMetro) October 25, 2017
The New York Times reports that Spota and Christopher McPartland, his chief of investigations, are both accused of obstructing the investigation into Burke’s actions: pressuring witnesses to lie to federal investigators and give false testimony in an attempt to hide Burke’s wrongdoing.
As reported by Rolling Stone, an internal memo signed by two Suffolk County detectives claimed that Burke, recently appointed to chief, had rejected an offer from the FBI to provide a behavioral profile of the Long Island Serial Killer — and Spota’s office signed off on the decision to decline the profile, a major step in minimizing the overall role of the FBI in the serial killer investigation. The Rolling Stone report found that the memo was dated within just a few days of Loeb’s arrest, but before the internal investigation into Burke’s assault of the suspect.
The Long Island Serial Killer remains at large.
Spota and Burke had a longstanding personal relationship which began when Burke, then 14 years old, was a key witness for the prosecution in a juvenile murder case that found four teens guilty of murdering 13-year-old John Pius. Some of the convictions were later overturned. Spota was a lead prosector on the case.
“Prosecutors swear oaths to pursue justice and enforce the law,” acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde said in a statement obtained by the New York Times.
“Instead of upholding their oaths, these defendants allegedly abused the power of the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.”
[Feature photo: Associated Press]