Career

James Burke Career

  • Burke began his career in Suffolk in 1986 after a year as a New York City police officer.
  • He started as a patrolman in North Amityville, which at the time was grappling with the crack epidemic, and then worked undercover narcotics out of headquarters.
  • 1991, at age 25, Burke was Promoted to sergeant
  • 2000 lieutenant
  • 2002, the newly elected Spota put Burke in charge of the squad of police detectives in his office, who until then mostly worked organized crime cases with fraud and money laundering. Spota and Burke expanded the unit’s scope.
  • 2004 Named inspector – Oversaw police detectives and DA’s investigators
  • December 2011 Appointed in January as chief of department.
  • 2012 Violated Prisoner Right
  • 2015 Burke was arrested and arraigned. Burke was Suffolk’s County highest-ranking officer for four years, was arrested and indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and violating the civil rights

James Burke was born and raised in Queens, New York. He is the son of George Burke and Frances Locascio Toal. His father is a retired New York City police officer and registered nurse. When Burke was a child, his parents divorced.Later on His Mother Remarried and James Burke subsequently relocated to Smithtown, Long Island with his mother and stepfather, John Toal. James has a maternal half brother, John Toal, NYPD sergeant. and two paternal half siblings, his sister, Christina Grub, George Burke, NYPD detective in the Special Investigations Unit.

Graduated from Smithtown East High School, attended Suffolk County Community College, entered the New York Police Academy, He graduated number 2 in the NYPD’s class of 1985. He was the valedictorian and number one in SCPD’s class of 1986 as well as the recipient of four awards at graduation.

Burke joined the New York Police Department from January 1985 to July 1986. He then joined the Suffolk County Police Department

His stepfather passed away in 1998, at age 59, from emphysema and a lung infection.

According to Burke’s brother “It was then that James willingly took on the role of being not only a brother, but also becoming a surrogate father to me. He made certain that I kept up my grades, hung around with the right crowds, and most importantly made sure I was always loved and never felt alone.

James Burke’s mother, Frances, and his half brother John, reside with him in his Long Island home

About Police James Burke

He was a key witness in the 1979 trial of the murder of a young boy named John Pius, because Burke witnessed them stealing a bike.

The prosecutor was Thomas Spota. And again testifying in 1990. 13-year-old named John Pius battered body was found in the woods in Smithtown, N.Y., in 1979 with six rocks jammed down his throat. Read Article

March 22, 1995 – James Burke

March 22, 1995 Internal Affairs Report by the Suffolk County Police Department

Internal affairs report by the Suffolk County Police Department shows Burke — then a sergeant — had a months-long relationship with a convicted prostitute and drug dealer named Lowrita Rickenbacker, according to report.

The report claimed Burke once left Rickenbacker alone in his car with his gun belt and service weapon resting on the backseat.

The report also said Burke engaged in a sexual act with Rickenbacker at least once inside his patrol car. Documents here

Timeline

2023

August 22, 2023, around 10:15 am, James Burke was arrested by Suffolk County Parks Rangers at Vietnam Memorial Park in Farmingville. Burke, 58, of Smithtown, was taken into custody and brought to the Sixth Precinct for processing. He was charged with Offering a Sex Act, Indecent Exposure, Public Lewdness, and Criminal Solicitation in the 5 th Degree. 

He was charged with Offering a Sex Act, Indecent Exposure, Public Lewdness, and Criminal Solicitation in the 5 th Degree.

1986

November 1996 James Burke graduated from the Suffolk police academy in November 1986.

Burke was 21 years old when he became a Suffolk Police officer at 21. According to Burke that he “looked up to the homicide detectives, I looked up to the prosecutors. I saw how confident, how professional they were and I wanted to be like that.”

1989

1989, he was promoted to undercover investigator in the Suffolk County Police Department narcotics squad

1991

1991, he was promoted to sergeant, overseeing the officers in the 1st Precinct.

1993

October 3, 1993 Burke had reported the loss or theft of his .380 caliber Beretta semiautomatic gun on, according to a Suffolk County Police Department field report. Oct. 4, 1993 A supplementary report was filed “reporting he located” his firearm. “The weapon was located in Sergeant Burke’s residence in a secure location,”

Internal Affair Report #152 was launched due to allegations surfaced that Burke, known to those on the streets as “Starsky,” it was reported he consumed drugs and failing to enter drugs as police property drugs seized from dealers. During this Investigation Detectives learned that James Burke was having relationship with Lorita Rickenbacke a known Felon.

November 1993. Rickenbacker in a sworn statement told investigators that Burke gave her his car keys while they were at a diner on Sunrise Highway in Babylon.” She told him she needed to run home because she left the house unlocked, so he gave her his car keys and he waited at the diner for her,”.

Rickenbacker’s sworn statement, says that Burke’s gun belt and uniform were in the backseat. “James’ gun was in his gun belt,” “I took the gun out of the holster and brought it in the house. I put the gun belt and his uniform in the trunk.

When she got home, she started doing drugs and did not return to the diner. He got the weapon back when he arrived at her house hours later. “When James and his partner came to my house I gave him the gun back.” Rickenbacker told investigators that the two broke off the relationship after that incident”

1994

April 27, 1994 Investigators interviewed Rickenbacker at the Nassau County, Rickenbacker was in jail on charges of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Rickenbacker told investigators she met James Burke in May 1992 when her girlfriend was hit by a car in North Amityville near Sunrise Highway and Albany Avenue.

She admitted to police that she was a crack user and Burke “seemed concerned for me and we became friends.” “After about six months I was comfortable enough to get in the police car number 137 with him,” Rickenbacker said Burke gave her small gifts such as roses, and money for food but admitted she used to buy crack, and that the two engaged in oral sex in his patrol car she said in her sworn statement.

1995

1995, he was transferred to the 4th Precinct, where he ultimately served as detective sergeant.

January 31, 1995, internal Affairs officers interviewed James Burke.

Burke told investigators that he had a six-month sexual relationship with Rickenbacker but denied he knew she was a criminal.

“Sergeant Burke could not recall if he ever let Rickenbacker use his personal car, but he denied that Rickenbacker had ever possessed his weapon in the manner she described . . . ,” the detective said in the report. “He could not recall if he allowed Lowrita to sit in the police car, but he absolutely denies having engaged in any sexual activity while on duty.”

Burke said he ended the relationship “when he began to hear rumors about Lowrita,” according to his sworn statement.

Investigators found that Rickenbacker, who took a polygraph test, was telling the truth about the two times Burke failed to safeguard his weapon, the report and the sources said. In addition, the report found that Burke knew about Rickenbacker’s criminal history because her crimes occurred in Burke’s precinct.

“Given Sergeant Burke’s forte for being aware of the criminal element in his patrol zone, and his intimate association with Lowrita Rickenbacker, his claim that he knew nothing of her activities or background seems disingenuous. . . . Her professed admiration and support for Sergeant Burke also lend credence to her account of the incidents she described,”

But The drug use allegation was unfounded and the accusation of improperly returning drug was found to be unsubstantiated.

1998

1998-1999, he started seeing a married women Heather Malone. Malone husband, Guy Malone, uncovered the affair and alleged that he discovered that his wife was working for James Burke as an escort. Guy Malone went to Internal Affairs about the information he discovered. Burke denied these allegations during Guy & Heather’s divorce proceedings, where he was deposed. Spota’s law firm represented Burke. After their divorce, Heather moved in and lived with Burke.

2000

2000, Burke became a lieutenant, which required an officer to pass a civil exam..

2002

2002, he moved to District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office, where he led the police detectives squad

2003

2003, he was promoted to captain and weeks later, was further promoted to deputy inspector.

2005

2005, he was promoted to full inspector and commander of the Organized Crime Bureau, overseeing the District Attorney’s office and criminal intelligence squad.

 “The Inner Circle,” group was created in November, included Chief of Detectives William Madigan. Hickey who was leading the police department’s criminal intelligence unit, Tom Spota – DA, Chris McPartland, Jimmy Burke, union official Russ McCormack also participated in the cover-up effort and the detectives as Bombace, Anthony Leto, Michael Malone, Hickey and Cliff Lent. Members of “The Inner Circle” would destroy enemies financially, personally and professionally, even going after a target’s family. As the group saw it, “if you crossed one, you crossed all,” according to Hickey.

The Inner Circle” moniker, Spota, Burke and McPartland called themselves “The Administration” as the three men in charge of law and order in the county.

2011

December 2011. He was appointed as a chief of the department, where he commanded personnel and operations and reported directly to Commissioner Edward Webber.

2011, Burke, by his own admission to others, was driving under the influence of alcohol and struck a state-owned vehicle of Chris. Abusing his power and authority, Burke and the Chris left the scene of the accident, avoiding prosecution for the DUI, and committing a further crime by leaving without reporting the accident. The extensive damage to the state vehicle that he struck, and his other criminal conduct, was concealed by Burke, who paid thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for vehicle repairs to cover-up his crimes.

2012

2012 Once Burke was promoted to Chief of Police he pulled Suffolk Police Detectives off a Federal Task Force. The three detectives on the task force were loyal to the feds, “who we hate,” Hickey recalled Burke saying. The witness said the real reason behind their removal was to cut Trotta’s ties to federal officials to minimize his power.

Detectives, John Oliva, went to news with information and also filed a complain with the FBI agents about Burke Internal Afair Investigation and Findings..

Spota, Burke and McPartland met to discuss Detective Oliva and decided to target Oliva for investigation and prosecution because he had become an enemy of theirs and was suspected of revealing embarrassing information about them to the press. 

Spota applied for a wiretap on Oliva’s phone, under the false petences of “officer safety,”. A judge approved the wiretap, and it lasted for four months..

Following a four-month wiretap investigation, Oliva was charged by way of a Superior Court Information with Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony; Computer Trespass, a class E felony; and Official Misconduct, a class A misdemeanor. Read More

December 14, 2012 The civil rights violation related to Burke’s assault of a Smithtown man who had been arrested for breaking into Burke’s SCPD-issued vehicle and stealing his property.

Christopher Loeb, who was under arrest and being held in an interrogation room at the 4th Precinct in Hauppauge, New York. Loeb had broken into Burke’s official police vehicle and stolen his gun belt and ammunition, and a duffel bag containing cigars, sex toys, prescription Viagra and pornography.

2013

January 2013, detective, Robert Trotta, posed questions at the Fourth Precinct about whether other cops saw Burke beat a prisoner there. Trotta retired from the police force after his election that November as a Suffolk legislator. But his questions earlier that year “set off major alarms in ‘The Inner Circle,’ ” Hickey said.

Trotta, along with John Oliva and William Maldonado, were the detectives that in September 2012 Burke took off a federal task force investigating MS-13-linked homicides, the witness told jurors

June 25, 2013, FBI Special Agents served members of the SCPD with federal grand jury subpoenas. That same day, defendants Spota and McPartland learned of the existence of the federal investigation. McPartland instructed Hickey to debrief his Intel detectives and learn what was said by the FBI agents serving the subpoenas, and find out who might be cooperating with them.

October 2013 , one of those detectives testified falsely under oath in a state pretrial hearing in the Loeb prosecution, denying that Loeb had been assaulted. The government’s case was being prosecuted by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Section.

December 2013, December Because of the threats and intimidation, none of the Intel detectives cooperated with the investigation, and it was closed eight months later, in December 2013. Through the efforts of the defendants and Burke, the initial grand jury investigation of Burke’s civil rights violation was successfully derailed.

2014

September 9, 2014 Detective Olivia pleaded guilty to Official Misconduct and was sentenced to a conditional discharge.

2012 – 2015 Following that assault, over almost three years, Burke and other Suffolk County law enforcement authorities took action to obstruct the federal civil rights investigation into the assault.

After the assault, Burke ordered high-ranking lieutenants of the SCPD to ensure that the detectives and officers who had witnessed the assault would never reveal what they had observed.

Burke also enlisted the help of his long-time mentor, then-District Attorney Spota, and McPartland, his personal friend and then-Chief of both Investigations and the Government Corruption Bureau, to ensure that the witnesses kept quiet. Having served as the Suffolk County D.A. for over a decade, Spota had successfully helped Burke avoid legal trouble regularly during their decades-long friendship. McPartland, who worked directly under Spota, also had built a close friendship with Burke, and was the first person who Burke called the morning he discovered that his vehicle had been burglarized.

Burke summoned detectives under his command to SCPD headquarters in Yaphank, New York, to persuade the detectives to agree to a false version of events that would conceal the assault.

2015

June 4, 2015, District Attorney Spota brought Hickey into his office and asked him, “Who do you think has flipped?” In discussing which of the detectives might be a “rat,” cooperating with federal investigators, Spota said about one of the likely cooperators, “If he talks, he’s dead. He will never work in Suffolk County again.” In that same meeting, McPartland told Hickey to pass along a message to the Intel detectives, threatening them with prosecution if they cooperated with the investigation.

December 9, 2015 Burke was arrested and arraigned. Burke was Suffolk’s County highest-ranking officer for four years, was arrested and indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and violating the civil rights of Christopher Loeb, then 26, of Smithtown, and then orchestrating a departmental cover-up of the crime in 2012. He was deemed by a federal judge as a danger to the community, bail was denied, and Burke remained in federal custody till his sentencing.

Burke and others pressured the detectives who witnessed the assault to conceal the event. Those efforts continued even after the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office opened an investigation of the assault in 2013.

2016

February 26, 2016, Burke pleaded guilty to a civil rights violation and conspiracy to obstruct justice.  James Burke, the former Chief of Department for the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), pleaded guilty to a civil rights violation and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Read More

November 2, 2016, Burke was sentenced to 46 months in prison.

2017

Officials at the low-security federal prison where former Suffolk County police chief James Burke is serving a 46-month sentence discovered Oxycodone in James Burke’s locker. Burke claimed the painkillers were planted in his locker after a dispute with another inmate. As punishment, Burke was sent to the special housing unit for 30 to 60 days, and the privileges of using a phone or computer were revoked. 

2018

November 2018 Burke was released from a federal prison after serving his 46-month sentence for beating a handcuffed man who had stolen a duffel bag from his vehicle and then covering up the assault.

December 2012 Man Broke into Burke’s unlocked black 2008 GMC Yukon

Man who broke into James Burke unlocked black 2008 GMC Yukon SUV in 2012 and made off with a gun belt, handcuffs, ammunition, a box of cigars, a humidor and a canvas bag that contained, among other items, sex toys and video pornography.

Loeb was attacked after being arrested at his mother’s home in Smithtown, New York, in December 2012 on a variety of parole violations. During a search there, police found stolen merchandise, including Burke’s duffel bag, which contained his gun belt, several magazines of ammunition, a box of cigars, a humidor, and a canvas bag with toiletries, clothing, sex toys and pornographic videos.

Burke punched and kicked Loeb in the head and body after his arrest, as revenge when Loeb called him a “pervert” during a police interrogation.

During the attack, Loeb was handcuffed and chained to an eyebolt fastened to the floor. Burke also threatened to kill Loeb with a tainted heroin overdose.

United States v. James Burke

On the morning of December 14, 2012, New York State Probation Department and Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) officers arrested probationer Christopher Loeb at his mother’s home in Smithtown, New York.

Officers discovered stolen from numerous automobiles, among them an SCPD-issued SUV operated by Burke, who was at the time the SCPD Chief of Department the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the department. The items stolen from Burke’s vehicle included

  • his gun belt,
  • magazines of ammunition,
  • a box of cigars, humidor,
  • and a canvas bag that contained, among other items, sex toys and adult video pornography.

Loeb was taken to alocal precinct for arrest processing.

Later that day, Burke abused his rank by walking into the interrogation room where Loeb was handcuffed, hunched over and manacled to the floor, and assaulted Loeb. Burke shook Loeb’s head violently, punched him in the head and body and attempted to knee and kick Loeb. Also, knowing that Loeb was a heroin addict, Burke threatened to kill Loeb, stating he would make sure Loeb received a “hot shot.” A “hotshot” is slang for either a fatally strong dose of heroin or one mixed with chemicals or poison intended to kill upon injection.

Though unable to defend himself, Loeb, referencing the pornography he found in Burke’s canvas bag (which he mistakenly believed depicted a minor on a printed cover) called Burke “a pervert.”

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.

In addition to abusing his authority by assaulting Loeb at the precinct, earlier on December 14, 2012, Burke abused his authority by entering the Loeb residence, a crime scene, even as the police search for evidence was still underway. Burke retrieved his canvas bag and other articles in direct violation of police procedure and protocol. In other words,

Burke tampered with and removed evidence from a crime scene because he was the “Chief” and because he knew no one would stop him.

Later that day, Burke congratulated officers (apparently unconcerned that he had jeopardized a larceny investigation that victimized many other civilians, solely to retrieve embarrassing articles) and even bragged to others within the SCPD about his assault of Loeb.

Days later, at a department event, 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.” C. Burke’s History of Abuse of Power Within the Department and Has Long Created a Climate of Fear. Read Full Memo Here

Leanne Witness – James Burke

Leanne escort from Long Island came forward

One year after Shannan Gilbert vanished, Leanne escort from Long Island, encountered James Burke at a house party in Oak Beach, months before he was promoted to Suffolk County’s Chief of Police.

He partook in the cocaine and alcohol that was freely passed around.

Furthermore, he became physical and choked her ferociously, forcing her to give oral sex all the while calling her a “no good whore.”

She even attested that more than one member of law enforcement within Suffolk County was a client of hers and was willing to take a polygraph test to substantiate her claims. Read Leanne Statement

About James Burke

November 2015, James Burke resigned from being Suffolk County’s police chief

November 2015, James Burke resigned from being Suffolk County’s police chief after being served a 46 month federal prison sentences for severely beating Christopher Loeb when he stole a duffel bag full of sex toys and pornography out of his SUV, who then coerced other members of law enforcement in his jurisdiction and many surrounding counties to cover up his indecencies; a series of events that occurred for three years.

Even more enthralling was the discovery that James Burke refused the FBI’s assistance when they were brought in to take over the Long Island Serial Killer case. Although Burke’s intentions aren’t entirely clear on why, the sheer fact of his decision led many to presume a possible tie-in personally to the LISK case that he wanted to remain secret. Nevertheless, there has not been any direct evidence connecting him to being the serial killer.

About James Burke

2016 – James Burke was arrested on civil rights violation charges & Convicted.

After Burke was arrested on civil rights violation charges in 2016, new doubts were cast on the integrity of the LISK investigation, and the corruption within the police force was blown wide open.”

The former chief pleaded guilty to reduced charges in February 2016.

In November 2016, he was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for assault and obstruction of justice.

About James Burke

2023 – James Burke was arrested on offering a sex act, public lewdness, indecent exposure, & criminal solicitation

August 22, 2023, around 10:15 am, James Burke was arrested by Suffolk County Parks Rangers at Vietnam Memorial Park in Farmingville. Burke, 58, of Smithtown, was taken into custody and brought to the Sixth Precinct for processing. He was charged with Offering a Sex Act, Indecent Exposure, Public Lewdness, and Criminal Solicitation in the 5 th Degree. 

He was charged with Offering a Sex Act, Indecent Exposure, Public Lewdness, and Criminal Solicitation in the 5 th Degree.  Location

Corruption

District Attorney Spota Assistant District Attorney, Chief of Police Corruption 

Before Burke became Suffolk County’s top cop, he had been involved in a series of scandals involving prostitutes and drugs, including a tryst in his police car with one of them.

Burke was involved with Heather Maloney the woman involved with a prostitution ring the investigation. Heather Malone, who ran a prostitution ring out of her hair salon in St. James, going back to the early 1990s.

Burke had a longstanding relationship with Lowrita Rickenbacker while patrolling the infamous Albany Ave in Wyandanch.

An internal police investigation found that Burke left at least one of the women in his patrol car alone with his service weapon resting on the back seat.

Obstructed investigation into Shannan Gilbert Death – the investigation into the deaths stalled, with Burke shutting down work on Gilbert’s case by labeling her death accidental, even though she had a wound in her neck consistent with a drill.

Leanne escort from Long Island, encountered James Burke at a house party in Oak Beach, months before he was promoted to Suffolk County’s Chief of Police. He partook in the cocaine and alcohol that was freely passed around. Furthermore, he became physical and choked her ferociously, forcing her to give oral sex all the while calling her a “no good whore.” She even attested that more than one member of law enforcement within Suffolk County was a client of hers and was willing to take a polygraph test to substantiate her claims.

James Burke Charged With Assaulting Smithtown Man in Custody in 2012 and Conspiring to Cover-up the Assault and Obstruct a Federal Civil Rights Investigation

A two-count indictment was unsealed today in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging former Suffolk County Police Chief of Department James Burke with assaulting and thereby violating the civil rights of a Smithtown man arrested for breaking into Burke’s department-issued vehicle and stealing his property on December 14, 2012. Burke is also charged with conspiracy to obstruct a federal civil rights investigation into the assault. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Central Islip, New York, on December 8, 2015. The defendant was arrested this morning. Read Indictment


Internal Affair Investigation

October 3, 1993 Burke had reported the loss or theft of his .380 caliber Beretta semiautomatic gun on, according to a Suffolk County Police Department field report. Oct. 4, 1993 A supplementary report was filed “reporting he located” his firearm. “The weapon was located in Sergeant Burke’s residence in a secure location,”

1993-1995 Pat Cuff led internal affairs investigation into James Burke in the that was initiated when Burke was caught having sex with a prostitute in his patrol car while in uniform. Internal Affair Report #152 was launched due to allegations surfaced that Burke, known to those on the streets as “Starsky,” it was reported he consumed drugs and failing to enter drugs as police property drugs seized from dealers. During this Investigation Detectives learned that James Burke was having relationship with Lorita Rickenbacke a known Felon.

November 1993. Rickenbacker in a sworn statement told investigators that Burke gave her his car keys while they were at a diner on Sunrise Highway in Babylon.” She told him she needed to run home because she left the house unlocked, so he gave her his car keys and he waited at the diner for her,”. Rickenbacker’s sworn statement, says that Burke’s gun belt and uniform were in the backseat. “James’ gun was in his gun belt,” “I took the gun out of the holster and brought it in the house. I put the gun belt and his uniform in the trunk.

When she got home, she started doing drugs and did not return to the diner. He got the weapon back when he arrived at her house hours later. “When James and his partner came to my house I gave him the gun back.” Rickenbacker told investigators that the two broke off the relationship after that incident”

April 27, 1994 Investigators interviewed Rickenbacker at the Nassau County, Rickenbacker was in jail on charges of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument. Rickenbacker told investigators she met James Burke in May 1992 when her girlfriend was hit by a car in North Amityville near Sunrise Highway and Albany Avenue.

She admitted to police that she was a crack user and Burke “seemed concerned for me and we became friends.” “After about six months I was comfortable enough to get in the police car number 137 with him,” Rickenbacker said Burke gave her small gifts such as roses, and money for food but admitted she used to buy crack, and that the two engaged in oral sex in his patrol car she said in her sworn statement.

January 31, 1995, internal Affairs officers interviewed James Burke.

Burke told investigators that he had a six-month sexual relationship with Rickenbacker but denied he knew she was a criminal.

“Sergeant Burke could not recall if he ever let Rickenbacker use his personal car, but he denied that Rickenbacker had ever possessed his weapon in the manner she described . . . ,” the detective said in the report. “He could not recall if he allowed Lowrita to sit in the police car, but he absolutely denies having engaged in any sexual activity while on duty.”

Burke said he ended the relationship “when he began to hear rumors about Lowrita,” according to his sworn statement.

Investigators found that Rickenbacker, who took a polygraph test, was telling the truth about the two times Burke failed to safeguard his weapon, the report and the sources said. In addition, the report found that Burke knew about Rickenbacker’s criminal history because her crimes occurred in Burke’s precinct.

“Given Sergeant Burke’s forte for being aware of the criminal element in his patrol zone, and his intimate association with Lowrita Rickenbacker, his claim that he knew nothing of her activities or background seems disingenuous. . . . Her professed admiration and support for Sergeant Burke also lend credence to her account of the incidents she described,”

2005 Intimidation: The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, under Tom Spota and Christopher McPartland, sought to upgrade charges against Cuff’s then 18-year-old son, who was caught with Cuff’s gun, from misdemeanor level to felony level.

2012, at the recommendation of Tom Spota, and in spite of a disqualifying disciplinary record that included consorting with prostitutes, losing his department gun and threatening subordinates, County Executive Steve Bellone appointed James Burke Chief of SCPD. 

When Burke was promoted to Chief of Police, he demoted Cuff four ranks and assigned him to work in a property warehouse.

2012 Removed Detective Olivia

September 2012, then Chief of Department James Burke removed Oliva from the LIGTF while simultaneously removing other detectives from other task forces. Oliva complained bitterly about his removal and openly challenged and badmouthed Burke. Oliva’s conduct was soon reported to Burke who became enraged. Then Oliva, believing that he was wrongly removed from the LIGTF,

Multiple witnesses will testify that, at the time the Oliva Investigation was initiated, the defendants were aware that Oliva was considered by their coconspirator, James Burke, to be an “enemy” and that the defendants viewed Oliva as an enemy as well, because an enemy of James Burke was an enemy of McPartland and Spota.

While monitoring calls on the Oliva wire, defendant McPartland was in regular phone contact with James Burke, updating him on the substance of the wire. Finally, multiple witnesses are expected to testify about a January 2014 meeting of the SCPD and SCDAO related to the Oliva Investigation during which meeting defendant Spota indicated, in substance, a desire to obtain information about the phone usage of Tania Lopez, a member of the media and an employee of Newsday, in order to find out her sources of information. Defendant Spota’s position in this regard was surprising, as while it is a crime to take police department reports and leak them to the press, it is not a crime for a reporter to publish such information. Further proof that an enemy of James Burke is an enemy of defendant Spota Read Court Recorts

District Attorney Thomas J. Spota and Government Corruption Bureau Chief Christopher McPartland Convicted of Obstructing a Federal Civil Rights Investigation

 April 2013, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and the FBI initiated a federal grand jury investigation into the assault of Loeb. 

On June 25, 2013, FBI Special Agents served members of the SCPD with federal grand jury subpoenas. That same day, defendants Spota and McPartland learned of the existence of the federal investigation. McPartland instructed Hickey to debrief his Intel detectives and learn what was said by the FBI agents serving the subpoenas, and find out who might be cooperating with them. However, because of the threats and intimidation, none of the Intel detectives cooperated with the investigation, and it was closed eight months later, in December 2013. Through the efforts of the defendants and Burke, the initial grand jury investigation of Burke’s civil rights violation was successfully derailed. 

In or about mid-2015, Spota and McPartland learned that the federal investigation had been reopened, and that its scope had expanded to include an investigation of the obstruction of justice and witness tampering offenses. The defendants reacted swiftly to obstruct it. Hickey testified that at a meeting with the defendants in Spota’s office on June 4, 2015, Spota asked him, “Who do you think has flipped?” In discussing which of the detectives might be a “rat,” cooperating with federal investigators, Spota said about one of the likely cooperators, “If he talks, he’s dead. He will never work in Suffolk County again.” In that same meeting, McPartland told Hickey to pass along a message to the Intel detectives, threatening them with prosecution if they cooperated with the investigation.

The defendants’ efforts to thwart the grand jury investigations ultimately failed. In early December 2015, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York indicted Burke. Burke pleaded guilty approximately two months later, admitting to his involvement in both the deprivation of Loeb’s civil rights and the conspiracy to obstruct justice. In November 2016, he was sentenced to 46 months’ in prison.  Case Recap

District Attorney Thomas J. Spota and Government Corruption Bureau Chief Christopher McPartland Convicted of Obstructing a Federal Civil Rights Investigation

1988, 1992 and 1996 hiring exam scandal.

Involved tests that awarded points for answers that matched profiles of ideal officers and allegations that senior staff who had answers ran a prep school. Hundreds of 37,000 applicants were found to have falsely answered questions in order to match profiles of ideal officers.

A grand jury indicted a Sergeant who taught a prep course for using stolen profile information to coach more than 700 applicants. A Lieutenant was indicted for destroying evidence of test cheating sought by the District Attorney’s Office. That Lieutenant ultimately retired and is now a practicing attorney on Long Island.

A Deputy Inspector admitted that he had answers to the 1996 test and faced departmental charges for coaching the sons of friends in the department for the 1988 test. Ultimately 55 officers averted dismissal. Then-Chief Gallagher offered: “I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.” Pursuant to an agreement negotiated by County attorneys, the officers and the PBA, three officers received six-month suspensions, 19 received shorter suspensions – some as little as two days, and ten were exonerated. A retired detective and spokesman for the Guardians, a fraternal organization of black officers, noted “It’s kind of strange that a lot of the names people were expecting on that list weren’t there,” saying that he believed that senior officers were protecting friends and family. 

December 2007 Supreme Court Vacated Conviction of Martin Tankleff – DA Spota wrongfully convicted a 17-year-old. 

The NYS Supreme Court Appellate Division Second Department unanimously vacated the conviction of Martin Tankleff for the 1988 murder of his parents and ordered his case back to Suffolk County for a retrial “to be conducted with all convenient speed,” stating “It is abhorrent to our sense of justice and fair play to countenance the possibility that someone innocent of a crime may be incarcerated or otherwise punished for a crime which he or she did not commit.” 

A member of Tom Spota’s law firm is reported to have represented Seymour Tankleff’s business partner in the late 1980s in a matter related to the sale of cocaine out of the store.  A baking supplies wholesaler is also reported to have testified in 2004 that he had frequently observed Detective James McReady and Seymour Tankleff’s business partner together in the store in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Tankleff ultimately spent 17 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.  He graduated Touro Law Center in 2014 and passed the New York State bar exam in 2017.

In April 2018, Tankleff reached a settlement with Suffolk County for $10 million.

2012 Chief of Police dismantles Task Force, Detective John Olivia files a complaint with the FBI and speaks to the press.

Burke, Spota, McPartland target Oliva conspried togetther in one of the meetings to target John Oliva ” because he had become an enemy of theirs and was suspected of revealing embarrassing information about them to the press” DA Spotta applied for a wiretap on Oliva’s phone, under the ruse of “officer safety,” and it was approved by a judge.

Following a four-month wiretap investigation, Oliva was charged by way of a Superior Court Information with Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony; Computer Trespass, a class E felony; and Official Misconduct, a class A misdemeanor. 

Sept. 9, 2014 John Olivia pleaded guilty on to Official Misconduct and was sentenced to a conditional discharge.

February 26, 2016 James Burke pleaded guilty to violating Christopher Loeb’s civil rights and conspiracy relating to efforts to conceal relevant evidence.  He received a sentence of 46 months in federal prison. 

October 25, 2017 FBI agents arrested Spota and McPartland on charges including witness tampering and deprivation of civil rights.  Spota resigned his office in November.

2018 District Attorney Sini immediately upon his taking office in 2018, the CIB aims to achieve and ensure justice by investigating claims of innocence, remedying identified wrongful convictions, and providing proactive support and recommendations to the Office to prevent wrongful convictions.

December 17, 2019 After a six-week trial, a federal trial jury convicted former District Attorney Thomas J. Spota and former Government Corruption Bureau Chief Christopher McPartland of conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and obstruct an official proceeding, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and being accessories after-the-fact to former Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) Chief of Department James Burke’s deprivation of a prisoner’s civil rights.

August 2021, Oliva, through counsel, submitted an application to the CIB for a review of his case. As detailed in the affirmation filed with the Court today, the investigation found that Oliva’s claims were substantiated. Overturned his Conviction.

2022 – Suffolk County has agreed to pay $1.5 million to a former Suffolk police detective whose conviction for leaking information to a Newsday reporter wasoverturned.