Testimony Continues In Federal Trial Of Former Suffolk County DA

Sophia Hall
November 18, 2019 - 3:25 pm
Thomas Spota

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (WCBS 880)The former Suffolk County district attorney made another court appearance Monday after being accused of helping to cover up a crime committed by the former chief of police.

Prosecutors in federal court are trying to establish that former DA Thomas Spota knew for decades that former police chief James Burke was unstable, as WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported. They say he ignored the signs and continued to promote Burke.

In court a former investigator says when Spota was still in private practice  in the early 1990's he represented Burke when the former police chief pleaded guilty to having relations with a prostitute in his patrol car and that she later accidentally drove off with his service weapon.

However, Spota’s longtime friend and currently Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer says the former DA never acted unprofessionally.

“Everything I've known of him is highly ethical and takes his oath of office very seriously,” Schaffer said.

The alleged crime took place in 2012 when Burke beat a handcuffed suspect who stole a duffel bag out of the backseat of his police issued SUV.

Burke pleaded guilty to the attack and served nearly four years in prison. He 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.