Spin Cycle

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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said late Thursday the sentencing of former police chief James Burke to 46 months in prison for assaulting a suspect and covering up the crime is a “positive step forward in restoring integrity to law enforcement in this county.”

Bellone, who appointed Burke as chief of department in January 2012, and asked him to resign in October 2015 — less than two months before Burke was arrested by the FBI — said the sentence sent a “strong message that abuse of power cannot and will not be tolerated in this government, no matter what your position is.”

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Bellone spoke publicly about Burke’s 46-month sentence for assaulting heroin addict and petty thief Christopher Loeb, who stole a duffel bag from Burke’s department-issued sport utility vehicle, earlier Thursday, saying Burke and others “engaged in a massive cover-up.”

Bellone, when asked whether he should have done more to remove Burke as the top uniformed officer in the police department earlier — in light of U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Wexler’s comments from the bench that the disgraced chief ran the police department “as a dictator” — said: “Obviously, you look back in hindsight and you can see things that weren’t clear as this cover up was in process. . . . So when Burke came under federal investigation and I’ve said this many, many times, he was continuing to lie to me as he was continuing to lie to the public.”