by Derek Gilna
Suffolk County, New York residents concerned about crime in their community apparently did not need to look any further than the activities of their own district attorney, Thomas Spota, 76. He and his aide, Christopher McPartland, were federally indicted in October of 2017 for helping to cover up the 2012 beating of a suspect named Christopher Loeb while he was in the custody of former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke.
Spota appeared in court on October 25, 2017 to answer charges of criminal conspiracy and obstruction of a federal investigation into Loeb’s accusation that he was brutally beaten after he broke into Burke’s SUV and found sex toys and miscellaneous pornography in a gym bag kept in the vehicle.
Spota is no stranger to controversy and accusations of misconduct. In 2016, a fellow Suffolk County officeholder accused him of illegally wiretapping his political enemies.
Those accusations prompted fellow Democratic officeholder, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, to call on Spota to resign in 2016. In light of the new accusations, Bellone renewed his call for Spota to resign, saying, “Tom Spota, you must resign from this office.... This culture of corruption which perverts this government, which destroys lives, which undermines justice cannot be allowed to continue. What we’re talking about here is the district attorney’s office that employs selective prosecution, targeting political enemies, protecting political friends.” Spota denied those charges.
Spota had also aroused the ire of federal investigators who were looking into the 2012 beating as well as other unprosecuted crimes in the county that Spota’s office had declined to prosecute, despite allegations that there was sufficient evidence to file charges. He also pulled investigators from a federal investigation into numerous Long Island slayings, saying he needed them for other matters.
Bruce Barket, who serves as Loeb’s attorney, was present in federal court when Spota posted $500,000 bail. Barket alleges that Burke tortured Loeb because he was embarrassed by the exposure of his arsenal of sex toys and threatened him with a “hot shot,” i.e., a fatal heroin overdose. “The Suffolk County law enforcement regime, this kind of corrupt, incestuous place that had been engaged in misconduct for decades, has been brought down by one kid, who said, ‘I’m not taking a beating from a cop.’” Loeb is also suing Suffolk County for the injuries he suffered as a result of the beating.
Spota has been in office for nearly 15 years and is one of the most feared political power brokers in the county’s Democratic Party by virtue of his position. Now, however, with his career in tatters and his name disgraced, many of the Democratic officeholders who had gladly accepted his assistance and support are calling for his resignation. Spota now faces another court date and the prospect of federal prison time for obstructing the federal investigation into his friend and former police chief Burke’s beating of Loeb.
Spota, through his attorney, pleaded not guilty and asserted that he is innocent of all of the federal charges.
Sources: www.newsday.com, www.nbcnewyork.com
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