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District Attorney in New York and Aide Indicted for Covering up Beating by Police Chief

by Derek Gilna

Residents in Suffolk County, N.Y. concerned about crime in their community did not need to look any further than the activities of their own district attorney, Thomas Spota, 76, who was federally indicted in October of 2017 for helping to cover up the 2012 beating of a suspect named Christopher Loeb, who was in the custody of former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke. Spota’s close aide and head of the political corruption unit, Christopher McPartland, was also charged.

Spota appeared in court on October 25, 2017 to answer charges of criminal conspiracy and of obstruction of a federal investigation into Loeb’s accusations 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, he was accused by a fellow Suffolk County officeholder of illegally wiretapping his political enemies.

Such accusations prompted fellow Democratic officeholder, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, to call on Spota to resign in 2016, saying, “Tom Spota, you must resign from this office so that we can begin the process of reforming this place—governmentally and politically—in a way that will ensure that this doesn’t happen again.” Bellone added, “This culture of corruption which perverts this government, which destroys lives, which undermines justice cannot be allowed to continue. It must be swept out.” Spota denied those charges.

Spota also aroused the ire of federal investigators looking into not only the 2012 beating, but also other unprosecuted crimes in the county that his 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.

According to Loeb, Burke tortured him after he was embarrassed by the exposure of his collection of sex toys and threatened him with a “hot shot” or fatal heroin overdose. Loeb’s attorney Bruce Barket said, “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, who had been in office for almost 15 years, was one of the most feared political power brokers in the Suffolk County 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 posted $500,000 bail during his first court appearance. Through his attorney, he pleaded not guilty and asserted that he is innocent of all of the federal charges. Nevertheless, he faces the prospect of federal prison time for obstructing the federal investigation into Burke’s beating of Loeb. 


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