James Burke, ex-Suffolk police chief, expected at bail hearing Friday

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Former Suffolk County Police Chief Indicted on Civil Rights Violation and Obstruction Conspiracy.

Ex-Suffolk police chief James Burke was denied bail Friday, two days after he was arrested on charges of assaulting a handcuffed suspect and conspiring to cover it up during a federal grand jury investigation. “I find the corruption of an entire department by this defendant is shocking,” U.S. CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. – Prosecutors say they want the former highest ranking uniformed officer of the Suffolk County Police Department detained as a danger to the community until he is tried for allegedly beating a prisoner and covering up the crime.

Burke, who abruptly retired from the New York police agency in October 2015, was charged in federal court with assault and obstructing an ensuing civil rights investigation. But it remains to be explained how disciplinary issues raised decades ago, including personal closeness to a known criminal, were overcome to enable Burke, a protégé of District Attorney Thomas Spota, to rise in the ranks. News agencies sent a letter to federal Judge Leonard Wexler in Central Islip (EYE’-slihp) Thursday, challenging his plans to close the hearing to the public.

Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI). Nearly five years have passed since the sudden announcement that County Executive Steve Levy wouldn’t seek re-election, and would forfeit his $4.1 million campaign fund in a deal with Spota. Loeb stole Burke’s duffell bag, gun belt, several magazines of ammunition, a box of cigars, a humidor, and a canvas bag that contained toiletries, sex toys, video pornography and clothing.

During the arrest and search of the Loeb residence, officers discovered a large cache of merchandise stolen from over a dozen vehicles, including an SCPD-issued SUV operated by Burke. In remanding Burke on Wednesday, Wexler said he was concerned that the assertions in the bail letter were so prejudicial that they might impede Burke’s chances for a fair trial. Wexler had granted an initial defense request to bar the public from attending the bail hearing Friday “in order to protect the rights of the defendant.” 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. Loeb, called John Doe in the indictment, had been arrested for stealing a duffel bag from Burke’s department SUV that was parked in front of the chief’s home early on Dec. 14, 2012. Spota said at the time: “While the investigation revealed serious issues with regard to fundraising and the manner in which it was conducted, including the use of public resources, I am confident that Mr.

Levy did not personally profit.” Then there was Suffolk authorities’ handling of a Nassau cop’s controversial shooting of an unarmed cabdriver in Huntington. Last year, a Suffolk grand jury expired without evident activity even as Nassau officials found the ex-officer committed four felonies during the bizarre episode. A unnamed detective even lied under oath concerning the assault during a state pretrial hearing at Loeb’s theft court date. “Shockingly, Burke had one of the detectives that was present on the precinct on the night of that assault testify falsely under oath in a pre-trial state court hearing, in which Loeb was charged with burglary, that Burke did not assault Loeb.” Donate to The PINAC Fund this holiday season to support independent journalism. It charges that he tampered with evidence, engaged in a cover-up of an automobile accident in which he had been intoxicated, had a retribution list of officers he considered disloyal, and instituted a “climate of fear [in the department]to protect his interests.” Before arraignment Wednesday, Burke’s Mineola attorney, Joseph Conway, “vigorously” denied that “there was, is, ever has been a cover-up” or that his client had done anything untoward. In one instance, Burke summoned detectives under his command to SCPD headquarters in Yaphank, New York, to persuade the detectives to agree on a false version of events that would conceal the assault.

Burke’s arrest and arraignment came nearly three years to the day after the alleged 2012 assault on Loeb and one day after the grand jury indictment was handed down. The indictment says that Burke, “together with others, while acting under color of the laws of the United States, did knowingly and willfully deprive John Doe of a right and privilege secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States,” referring to the right of due process, “which includes the right to be free from excessive force.” The indictment also says that Burke, “together with others, did knowingly, intentionally and corruptly conspire to obstruct, influence and impede an official proceeding,” referring to the federal investigation.

Despite videotape surveillance, a $100,000 reward offer, and identification of the getaway vehicle as an older-model Jeep Cherokee, the case appears to grow cold. When an officer’s actions threaten to obstruct the integrity of an investigation, they unjustly call into question the reputation of those among them who respectfully adhere to the code of ethics so valued by the law enforcement community. The biggest and most disturbing local riddle of all involves the grisly discovery, starting five years ago, of the remains of 11 people along Ocean Parkway. We vow never to forget our obligation to remove from the criminal justice system those who don’t uphold the tenets of the legal system,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Rodriguez. Several dozen officers were present at Loeb’s home or the Fourth Precinct when Loeb alleged officers first beat him at home and then officers and Burke beat him at the precinct.

Assistant United States Attorneys James Miskiewicz and Lara Treinis Gatz are in charge of the prosecution, assisted by EDNY Investigators William Hessle, Michael Cassidy, and Steven Kaplan.

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