One of the men accused of taking Suffolk Police Chief of Department James Burke's gun belt, ammunition and handcuffs from a department-issued SUV last year has told his family that the Suffolk top cop punched him while they were alone at the Fourth Precinct, the suspect's mother said.
Christopher Loeb, 26, said the incident occurred in the precinct's squad room on Dec. 14, 2012, hours after Loeb had been apprehended, according to his mother, Jane Loeb. Burke Tuesday said he did nothing wrong.
From his Suffolk jail cell, Loeb wrote his mother earlier this year that he was "beat up" both in his home and then "even worse at the precinct." Then, during a conversation in the Suffolk County Jail, she said Loeb, who was convicted in April 2012 of grand larceny, told her that Burke was the person who punched him.
Loeb told her that Burke punched him in the stomach and said, "That's what you get for taking somebody's property," Jane Loeb said.
Despite the allegations, neither Christopher Loeb nor the Loeb family has lodged a formal complaint against Burke or has filed any sort of lawsuit.
A police spokesman for the department issued a statement Tuesday night that said: "Chief Burke denies any allegation of wrongdoing. Once a subject has been arraigned, the Suffolk County Police Department does not comment on the case. The Christopher Loeb case is an active, on-going criminal prosecution. It would be inappropriate for Chief Burke to comment on this case. Chief Burke, along with numerous other victims of Christopher Loeb, are not only victims, but potential witnesses in this case."
The police department also issued a statement on behalf of County Executive Steve Bellone.
"James Burke is an outstanding law enforcement official and has helped lead our efforts to make Suffolk County a safer place to live," the statement said.
Suffolk Police Benevolent Association president Noel DiGerolamo said, "I'm surprised we are giving credibility to a known convicted criminal over a law enforcement professional who is a decorated law enforcement leader."
Law enforcement sources said Burke went to the Fourth Precinct, where Loeb of Smithtown was being processed, and had the detectives' squad room cleared of everyone except for Loeb and himself.
Loeb was convicted of grand larceny in April 2012 and was on probation when Burke's vehicle was broken into. He also has several misdemeanor convictions for drug and vehicle traffic law violations and attempted aggravated harassment.
Jane Loeb said her son has struggled with a drug addiction for years and she now fears for his life.
"I don't want harm to come to him," she said.
Police and prosecutors say Loeb and Gabriel Miguelez, 36, of Lindenhurst, took a duffel bag containing Burke's gun belt, ammunition, handcuffs, cigars and other items from the department-issued GMC Yukon on Dec. 14 around 12:30 a.m.
Burke also went to the Loeb home hours after his vehicle was broken into and while Loeb was being apprehended, law enforcement records show.
Suffolk County rules and procedures say police supervisors and top brass should not participate in routine matters and should allow subordinates to carry out those functions.
A law enforcement expert and law enforcement sources said a chief who is the victim of a crime should not show up at the crime scene.
"There is kind of a general philosophy that you do not allow police officers, who have been victimized by an offender, to have access to that offender," the expert said.
According to court records, Loeb told Fourth Precinct detectives that Burke's Yukon was unlocked when they took the bag. Police spokesman Deputy Chief Kevin Fallon said earlier this year that Burke said his car was locked.
Loeb is scheduled to appear July 9 before Suffolk County Judge Martin Efman on 29 counts related to breaking into more than a dozen cars in St. James.
A Suffolk County grand jury indicted Loeb in December on counts that include fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth- and fifth-degree possession of stolen property, seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. He has been held at Suffolk County Jail on $500,000 bond.
Miguelez, a first-time offender, was released from jail on Jan. 30 and has agreed to a plea deal.
Loeb's court-appointed attorney, Toni Marie Angeli, did not return a call requesting comment.