Former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke Indicted on Federal Civil …

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ex-Police Chief of Suffolk County Is Accused of Beating Man and Trying to Cover It Up.

County Executive Steve Bellone’s hope that the scandal in Suffolk’s police department would end with the indictment of former chief of department James Burke was chucked out of the window by a federal prosecutor Wednesday. “Stay tuned,” Robert L. A former Suffolk County police chief beat up and threatened to kill a junkie who stole a duffel bag containing porn DVDs and sex toys from his official vehicle — then conspired with other police officers to cover up the assault, the feds charged Wednesday. James Burke, who resigned in October, was busted on civil-rights and obstruction charges for allegedly assaulting Christopher Loeb in a rage after the handcuffed burglary suspect called him a “pervert” over the stolen bag’s racy contents.

Whether attorneys and officials supported or reviled Burke, many said the case would have some effect on District Attorney Thomas Spota, who has nurtured and promoted Burke from the time Burke was 14 years old throughout his career. Burke was arrested by federal agents at his Long Island home on charges of violating the man’s rights by assaulting him and of conspiring to cover it up.

The former chief, James Burke, 51, who left the force recently as a federal investigation into the episode mounted, faces charges that he violated the man’s civil rights and later obstructed an investigation into the matter. “No one is above the law,” Robert L. Then, court papers allege, the disgraced lawman forced lower-level cops to get their “stories straight” and keep him in the clear — intimidating them so badly that one even lied under oath on the witness stand.

Brocato noted that Spota made Burke chief of the district attorney’s offices’ detective investigator, the job that was his springboard to becoming chief. Officers who searched the home in which Loeb was arrested found a “large cache” of property that had been stolen from several cars, including items stolen from Burke’s department-issued vehicle. “Among the items taken from Burke’s SUV was his gun belt, several magazines of ammunition, a box of cigars, a humidor, and a canvas bag that contained toiletries, clothing, and other items,” the release stated. “He then drove to the SCPD’s Fourth Precinct in Smithtown where detectives had begun interrogating Loeb,” the release stated. “Burke entered the interrogation room where Loeb was handcuffed and chained to an eyebolt fastened to the floor. James home at dawn, handcuffed, and taken for booking following a probe by by special criminal investigators reporting to the United States Attorney’s office for the Eastern District and the FBI. Attorney Robert Capers said at a news conference prior to the arraignment that Burke influenced officers in his department to lie about what happened to Loeb.

Burke and unnamed others pressured Suffolk detectives who witnessed Burke punch and kick Christopher Loeb — in an interview room at Fourth Precinct — to conceal what they had seen. Although Loeb was unable to fight back, he called the chief a “pervert,” mentioning one piece of porn that Loeb mistakenly thought featured a minor on its cover. “Burke then went out of control, screaming and cursing at Loeb and assaulting him until a detective finally said, ‘Boss, that’s enough, that’s enough,” court papers charge.

Loeb’s mother’s home in Smithtown on the North Shore of Long Island, officers discovered a variety of items believed to be stolen from more than a dozen vehicles, including Mr. Loeb, who has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Burke and the department, said he was assaulted initially at his home by officers and subsequently at the precinct, where he said he was beaten by Burke and other officers.

He recalled a young Burke “running around on the fourth floor” of the courthouse when he was a teenager, testifying during the infamous trials concerning the murder of John Pius Jr. Loeb’s attorney, Amy Marion, said in a statement that her client will continue to cooperate with investigators. “We look forward to seeing that justice is done,” she said.

In addition to the alleged cover-up, the feds say Burke has a “history of abuse of power” that includes a 2011 drunk-driving incident in which he plowed into a state-owned vehicle and hid it by personally paying thousands of dollars in repair costs. Wexler granted an initial defense request to bar the public from attending a bail hearing Friday “in order to protect the rights of the defendant.” Asked whether anyone else in Suffolk law enforcement is being investigated or will be indicted as a result of the Burke investigation, Capers said that the probe is continuing. He also allegedly ordered the 2013 installation of a tracking device “on a high-ranking civilian police department official” who Burke disliked in order to “blackmail or force that official out of office.” It’s probably very demoralizing for Spota.” “The people who are in charge of law and order are being questioned about their dedication to law and order,” he said. “What they do now affects the direction of the county.” For Spota, McElwee’s former boss, this is the time when the district attorney will reward people’s faith in him or lose it by how he handles the fallout from the arrest. “This is the turning point,” he said. The indictment accuses Burke of beating a handcuffed prisoner, Christopher Loeb, and then enlisting unnamed officers and others in a massive cover up of the alleged assault.

But really, with allegations of a cover-up, reaching into the department and lasting almost three years, isn’t it time for every allegation to be aired and to be addressed. The bail letter said “Burke regaled a group of officers with his account of the assault, saying it reminded him of his ‘old days’ as a young police officer, and referred to detectives who were present during the assault of a defenseless prisoner as his ‘palace guards.’” The indictment charges that Burke, “together with other members of the SCPD, met on multiple occasions to discuss John Doe’s assault allegations and agreed to conceal Burke’s role in the assault by, among other means, agreeing to provide false testimony under oath about the assault, and agreeing to provide false information and to withhold relevant information from the FBI and the federal grand jury investigating the assault.” The letter also alleged that Burke asked police officers assigned to a federal taskforce to spy on whoever might be cooperating with federal prosecutors and agents on the case against him. He credited Bellone with quickly putting into place a leadership team at the police department that will work effectively with federal law enforcement.

It has responsibility for patrolling much of eastern Long Island, although the Hamptons and several other towns also have local police departments that patrol those areas. Burke’s arrest and arraignment came nearly three years to the day after the alleged 2012 assault on Loeb and one day after a the grand jury indictment was handed down.

It replaced an initial grand jury that had investigated the case without bringing any charges and that had remained dormant since the beginning of 2014. Each U.S. attorney has a handful of investigators, unattached to any other law enforcement agency, who work on special or sensitive assignments directly for him or her. Loeb called Burke a “pervert” because he mistook it for child pornographyduring the questioning, which triggered the assault, according to court papers.

Loeb’s mother, Jane, says her son wrote her a letter alleging he was “beat up” in his home during his arrest and then “even worse at the precinct,” and he says it was Burke who punched him. Newsday reports that at least 10 probation and police officers went to the home to conduct the search, according to law enforcement sources and Loeb’s family.

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