Federal Trial Begins For Former Suffolk DA Accused Of Covering Up Police Abuse

Sophia Hall
November 14, 2019 - 1:34 pm
Thomas Spota

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — The trial for a former Suffolk County district attorney accused of helping to cover up the criminal acts of the former police chief got underway Thursday morning.

According to WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall, former DA Thomas Spota sat quietly as prosecutors described a tangled web of lies from those in the police department to the DA’s office.

Prosecutors alleged Spota threatened a number of high-ranking officials to keep quiet after the former police chief, James Burke, reportedly beat up a handcuffed suspect who stole a duffle bag from his police department SUV.

Federal officials say phone records between the key players in this trial will be key in convicting the former DA, who served in the position for over 15 years.

However defense attorneys say the entire prosecution’s case is based on a former investigator, who they say is an alcoholic and “delusional.”

The defense says prosecutors are living in a fantasy and that Spota never knew about the police chief's crime to cover it up. They say Burke told a number of lies to keep the assault quiet.

Lawyers say Spota himself did not know about the beating until Burke pleaded guilty to obstructing justice and violating civil rights.

Burke served nearly four years in prison and was released in April.

Spota’s trial is expected to last about four weeks. The former head of his office's anti-corruption bureau, Christopher McPartlan, is also facing similar charges.

Both men have pleaded not guilty and deny all allegations of wrongdoing.