Spota resigns following indictment
In a statement issued this morning, Suffolk County district attorney Thomas Spota announced he will resign “at the earliest opportunity after the resolution of normal administrative matters relating to my retirement.”
The announcement comes one day after Spota, 76, of Mount Sinai, was indicted by a federal grand jury for attempting to cover up the assault of a prisoner by former Suffolk County police commissioner James Burke. The federal charges also accuse Spota of intimidating witnesses in an attempt to sweep the assault of a prisoner under the rug.
In 2012, Burke assaulted Christopher Loeb, who stole a bag from his patrol SUV in 2012. Officials say that the bag contained a gun belt, cigars, sex toys and pornography. Federal prosecutors have been probing whether Spota and his top aide were involved in the cover-up.
Burke is currently serving a 46-month sentence for violating Loeb’s civil rights and obstructing justice.
Spota’s chief of investigations and chief of the DA’s Government Corruption Bureau, Christopher McPartland, 51, of Northport, was also indicted Wednesday.
Both defendants pleaded not guilty at Wednesday’s arraignment in Central Islip and were released on a $500,000 bond secured by their homes with their wives as suretors.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a statement that both men must report to Pretrial Services as directed and no co-defendant contact is allowed without their attorney present. “If it is a work-related issue, the defendants must go through a third party,” the statement reads. “The defendants cannot have contact with any witnesses and must turn in their passports. Their travel is restricted to the continental U.S.”
In a letter sent to the judge by federal prosecutors, acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Rohde asked that strict bail conditions be met. “The nature and circumstances of the crimes charged are shocking and appalling as the defendants, two of the highest-ranking members of the SCDAO, are alleged to have grossly and outrageously violated their positions of trust and operated in a manner more akin to criminal enterprise than a district attorney’s office,” Rohde said in the letter.
The next court date is Dec. 1, with each facing four counts: conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and obstruct an official proceeding; witness tampering and obstruction of an official proceeding; obstruction of justice; and accessory after the fact to the deprivation of civil rights, the indictment states.
In May, Spota, a Democrat, announced that he would not be seeking re-election. He was first elected in 2001. In the statement, he said that Emily Constant, the chief assistant district attorney, would assume his responsibilities.
This November, Suffolk County voters will elect a new DA for the first time in 16 years. Ray Perini, a Republican, is challenging Democrat Tim Sini, the current Suffolk County police commissioner, in November’s face-off.
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