Suffolk County District Attorney, Tom Spota was the top law enforcement official in the county, a position he held since 2001.
But the 76-year-old Mount Sinai resident found himself on the wrong side of the law in late October, when he and a top aide were indicted on federal charges that they covered up an assault of a handcuffed suspect by former county Police Chief James Burke, who ended up in prison for his role in the assault.
Within days of the indictment, Mr. Spota, who had already announced he would not seek election earlier in the year, stepped down from his position as DA.
He and Assistant District Attorney Christopher McPartland — the chief of investigations and chief of the DA’s Government Corruption Bureau — both pleaded not guilty and were released on $500,000 bond, secured by their homes.
“While FBI agents were working to restore justice in a civil rights investigation, District Attorney Thomas Spota and Assistant District Attorney Christopher McPartland were conspiring to obstruct it,” said William Sweeney Jr., the assistant FBI director-in-charge, in a statement.
“The crimes they’re charged with are rivaled only by the conduct they allegedly attempted to conceal,” he said.
The assault took place Dec. 14, 2012, when a suspect was arrested on suspicion of burglarizing motor vehicles, including a vehicle owned by Mr. Burke.
The suspect, Christopher Loeb, was transported to the county police 4th Precinct, where he was taken to an interview room and handcuffed to a permanent fixture inside of the room, according to the indictment.
Later that day, Mr. Burke and other unnamed officers “entered the interview room and assaulted,” him, the indictment states.
Mr. Loeb later confessed to the burglary, but alleged that his confession was involuntary because he was assaulted by Mr. Burke, according to the indictment.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Emily Constant has taken over as interim DA, and, on Election Day, Democrat Tim Sini was overwhelmingly elected to be the new DA as of January.
Photo caption: Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota (Credit: File photo)