Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay a $100,000 fine today after attempting to obstruct a federal investigation into the brutality of a prisoner by former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke in 2012.

Spota was convicted in December 2019 on federal charges of conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and obstruct an official proceeding, witness tampering, obstruction of justice and being an accessory to Burke, U.S. Department of Justice officials said. Former Chief of Investigations and Chief of the DA office’s Government Corruption Bureau, Christopher McPartland, was sentenced to five years in prison alongside Spota for the same crimes.

“When a sitting District Attorney and one of his top prosecutors are corrupt and use their power to intimidate witnesses and cover up a brutal assault by a high-ranking law enforcement official, they not only jeopardize the safety of citizens who are entitled to the protection of the law, they also undermine confidence in the integrity and fairness of our criminal justice system,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said.

Burke physically and verbally assaulted a shackled prisoner, Christopher Loeb, in an interrogation room in Hauppauge after Loeb broke into Burke’s police vehicle and stole his gun belt and ammunition, and several personal items including cigars, sex toys and pornography. 

Spota and McPartland helped to ensure witnesses of Burke’s crimes using threats against themselves and their families during a U.S. grand jury investigation into Burke’s deprivation of Loeb’s civil rights. Spota and McPartland were successful in thwarting the investigation at first, until the case was reopened and witnesses were able to testify when granted immunity. Burke pleaded guilty to civil rights violations and conspiracy to obstruct justice in February of 2016 and was sentenced to 46 months in prison.

Spota, 79, will begin his sentence Dec. 10. McPartland, 55, will begin his sentence Nov. 10.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: