Ex-Suffolk DA Spota, Aide, Convicted of Cover-up

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota during a press conference in July 2012. (Long Island Press)

Ex-Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and his former top deputy were convicted Tuesday of conspiring to cover up police brutality following a month-long trial at Central Islip federal court.

Following a day of deliberations, a federal jury found found Spota and his former public corruption bureau chief Christopher McPartland guilty of obstruction of justice, conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and obstruct an official proceeding, witness tampering and obstruction of an official proceeding and accessory after the fact to the deprivation of civil rights.

Federal prosecutors said Spota, McPartland, and ex-Suffolk police chief James Burke conspired to conceal Burke’s role in beating a suspect that stole a bag of sex toys, pornography, and ammunition from the chief’s SUV in 2012. Authorities also said the three talked about using their power to cover up the chief’s attempted cover up of the beating that Burke ultimately pleaded guilty to in 2016. Burke has since been sentenced and released from prison. 

In addition, investigators said they used intimidation, threats, and corrupt persuasion to pressure multiple witnesses, including co-conspirators, not to cooperate with the federal investigation, to provide false information, including false testimony under oath, and to withhold relevant information from investigators.

The thief, Christopher Loeb, a recovering heroin addict, also served time, had his conviction vacated, and later won a $1.5 million settlement from the county.

The prosecution’s star witness was retired Suffolk County police Lt. James Hickey, then the commanding officer of the Criminal Intelligence Unit, who Spota, McPartland, and Burke tasked with orchestrating the cover up and making sure detectives who witnessed the Loeb’s beating didn’t cooperate with federal investigators, authorities said.