A special prosecutor from the Queens district attorney's office will take over the case against the Smithtown man accused of stealing a police gun belt and ammunition from a police-issued SUV used by Suffolk police Chief James Burke.
Assistant District Attorney Peter Crusco of the office's investigation division was appointed to take over the case against Christopher Loeb, 26, because Burke previously was assigned to the Suffolk district attorney's office.
Loeb was indicted on Dec. 28 on 30 counts related to break-ins of more than a dozen cars including Burke's on Dec. 14. The charges against Loeb 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 is being held on $500,000 bail in Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead. He is due back in court June 4.
The special prosecutor was announced in court Thursday in what was supposed to be a hearing for Loeb before State Supreme Court Judge Martin Efman but was adjourned at the request of his attorney, Toni Marie Angeli. Angeli could not be reached for comment.
An affidavit, dated Feb. 15 and signed by Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Michael Miller, stated the request for a special prosecutor was made "to avoid any resulting appearance of impropriety." It was granted by Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson.
The affidavit also stated that "the District Attorney has disqualified himself and his assistants from participating in any further action with respect to matters related to or arising out of the transactions forming the subject matter of the above charges."
Burke was the chief investigator for the Suffolk district attorney's office before his appointment as chief of department, and was assigned to the district attorney's office for more than 10 years. Thomas Spota's office issued an email statement on the request for a special prosecutor.
"One of the victims in this prosecution was formerly assigned to the district attorney's office," spokesman Robert Clifford said. "We requested a special prosecutor for that reason."