James Hickey Former Suffolk County police lieutenant

  • From 1963 to 1971 Tom served as a volunteer firefighter with the Garden City Park Fire Department,
  • 1966 Tom voluntarily enlisted with the United States Marine Corps
  • 1972 was honorably discharged in . Eager
  • 1973 to 1974. Tom then re-enrolled as a volunteer firefighter, with Mount Sinai, Engine Company
  • 1972, he joined the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office (the “SCDA”) as an assistant district attorney.
  • 2002 District Attorney of Suffolk County, New York.
  • Hickey pleaded guilty in 2016 to a single count of conspiracy to obstruct justice for his role as the middleman in the scheme to cover up

James Hickey, the former Suffolk County police lieutenant who testified against ex-Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide at their corruption trial, was sentenced Friday to one year of probation for his role in conspiring to obstruct the federal investigation into former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke’s assault of a handcuffed prisoner.

Lieutenant James Hickey was the commanding officer of the department’s criminal intelligence division.

Hickey testified that he was part of an “inner circle” with Spota, Burke, McPartland and William Madigan, the Chief of Detectives.

At trial, Hickey testified, pursuant to a cooperation agreement, as the government’s star witness. Hickey said it was simple: “If I went against James Burke, Tom Spota and Christopher McPartland, I would be dead. I’d be finished. I’d be Public Enemy No. 1.”

The Case that started the fall of corruption:

On the morning of December 14, 2012, James Burke discovered that his car had been broken into and that a number of items were stolen, including his gun belt, ammunition, PBA cards, pornography, sex toys, and a Viagra prescription with Burke’s name on it.

Later that day, officers found Burke’s items in the possession of Christopher Loeb, a heroin addict, during an unrelated probation search of Loeb’s residence. Loeb was taken to the Fourth Precinct and placed in an interrogation room where he was assaulted by Burke, Detective Kenneth Bombace, and Detective Anthony Leto. Detective Michael Malone also witnessed the assault. All three detectives worked in the criminal intelligence division under Hickey.

Loeb filed a complain to the U.S. Justice Department about the beating, cops agreed to stick to a story that Burke and McPartland crafted for them, one that painted Loeb as “a junkie thief who fabricated his tale of an assault.”

The charges against Defendants Spota and McPartland stemmed from the ensuing cover-up of the assault. Burke had extremely close relationships with both Spota and McPartland, the details of which were set out extensively at trial and provided critical context to explain the involvement of Spota and McPartland in the cover-up of the assault.

summer of 2013, Hickey—acting at the direction of Burke and Defendants—ensured that the detectives stayed quiet in response to the federal investigation. However, in Loeb’s criminal matter, the state court scheduled suppression hearings to determine whether Loeb’s statements to the officers at the precinct should be suppressed. (Tr. 1643.) According to Hickey, in advance of these hearings, Hickey, Burke and McPartland all met together in Burke’s office in September 2013 to prepare Burke in case he had to testify at the suppression hearing. (Tr. 1644-45, 1956.) During this meeting, McPartland and Burke engaged in a brief mock examination during which they settled on a story that Burke stuck his head into the interrogation room to see “if he recognized Loeb from his neighborhood because . . . Burke, had an elderly mother who lived next door to him and the park across the street from his house was known for drug problems.” (Tr. 1645.) At this meeting, they also discussed which of the detectives should testify at the suppression hearing. (Tr. 1644-48.) They agreed that Leto should testify because Malone was “too shaky” and Bombace was too inexperienced. ( Id.)

Shortly afterwards, Hickey met with the detectives at his house, where, as Bombace recounted, Hickey told the detectives that ” they were sending” Leto in to testify. (Tr. 676-78 (emphasis added), see also Tr. 724-26 (Bombace’s testimony that Hickey told him that Malone was not selected to testify because ” they felt that [Malone] was shaky”) (emphasis added).)

Leto ended up testifying falsely at the suppression hearing in Loeb’s criminal case, which was held over seven days in October and November 2013. (Tr. 1249, 1649-51, 2222-23.) Phone records for these dates show numerous calls amongst Burke, Spota, McPartland, Hickey, and Madigan, who had been chosen by Defendants and Burke to act as the liaison with the special prosecutor and had observed the hearings. (Tr. 1604-06, 1651, 2222-2246.)

In its opening statement at trial, the government referred to McPartland as the “architect of the lies,” pointing to the February 2013 meeting with Burke and Hickey. (Tr. 30.) At trial, the defense argued that Hickey fabricated his claim about the February 2013 coaching session involving McPartland and Burke and that the only coaching session occurred between Burke and the three detectives. In support of this argument, the defense also stressed that the alleged February 2013 meeting with McPartland and Burke did not appear on Hickey’s calendar. Additionally, as discussed infra, the defense vigorously cross-examined Hickey about when he first disclosed the February 2013 meeting involving McPartland and Burke to the governmen

Hickey pleaded guilty in 2016 to a single count of conspiracy to obstruct justice for his role as the middleman in the scheme to cover up Burke’s Dec. 14, 2012, assault of prisoner Christopher Loeb, who had stolen a duffel bag from Burke’s department-issued vehicle containing pornography, a sex toy and his gun belt. Burke pleaded guilty and served most of a 46-month federal prison sentence. Read More


District Attorney Spota Assistant District Attorney, Chief of Police Corruption 

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.

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

Thomas Spota and James Burke

Thomas Spota was the Suffolk County District Attorney. He was elected in 2001 and held that position until the end of 2017. (Tr. 2405–07.) Christopher McPartland worked with Spota at the District Attorney’s Office until December 2017. During the events in question, McPartland was the Chief of the Government Corruption Bureau and the Investigations Division..  Documents here

2012 – How it Strated
December 2012 Man Broke into Burke’s SUV

Man who broke into his 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 a cache of 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.

Burke along with Spota then masterminded a years-long cover-up of the assault and pressured detectives to keep it quiet when federal authorities began investigating.

“During his tenure as the highest-ranking uniformed officer in the Suffolk County Police Department, James Burke considered himself untouchable,” United States Attorney Robert Capers said in a statement. “He abused his authority by brazenly assaulting a handcuffed prisoner, he pressured subordinates to lie to cover up his criminal acts, and he attempted to thwart the civil rights investigation into his conduct

About James Burke

2021 – Suffolk County DA Thomas J. Spota were to five years in prison.

ormer Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota and Christopher McPartland, the former Chief of Investigations and Chief of the Government Corruption Bureau of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office (SCDAO), were each sentenced today by United States District Judge Joan M. Azrack, to five years in prison. Additionally, Spota was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine.

The sentences stem from the defendants’ December 17, 2019 convictions, following a six-week federal jury trial, on all four counts of the Indictment; specifically, 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.