Criminal Justice

DA in New York is accused of obstructing probe into beating of suspect by former police chief

  • Print.


Suffolk County, New York, District Attorney Thomas Spota. Photo by Scdacomm, via Wikimedia Commons.

Updated: Suffolk County, New York, District Attorney Thomas Spota has been charged with obstructing an investigation into the beating of a suspect by the county’s then-police chief.

Spota and his chief of investigations, Christopher McPartland, were charged in an indictment announced Wednesday, according to the New York Law Journal (sub. req.), the New York Times and a Justice Department press release.

The two men are accused of obstructing the investigation of Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke, who was accused of beating a handcuffed suspect who had allegedly broken into Burke’s car. The suspect, who was later convicted by a special prosecutor, was accused of stealing a duffel bag in Burke’s car that contained cigars, sex toys and pornographic DVDs.

Spota and McPartland were accused of using their positions to pressure witnesses to keep them from cooperating in the beating investigation. Burke pleaded guilty in February 2016 to federal civil rights violations and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the alleged cover-up. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison.

Spota and McPartland were charged with four counts: witness tampering and obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of justice, and accessory after the fact to deprivation of civil rights.

Both men pleaded not guilty Wednesday. A lawyer for Spota said his client denies the charges, the New York Times and the Associated Press report. A lawyer for McPartland said his client “vehemently denies the charges and asserts his innocence,” according to the New York Law Journal.

On Thursday, Spota announced he will resign “at the earliest opportunity after the resolution of normal administrative matters relating to my retirement,” report the New York Times and (sub. req.).

Story updated on Oct. 27 to report that Spota has announced his resignation.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.