Today is the day I honestly believed would never arrive. I thought you were untouchable. Now look at us both, we are both incarcerated. The difference, besides the fact that my sentence is about to end and yours is only the beginning, is that my actions reflected only me.
Your crimes revealed deep problems in the entire Suffolk County law enforcement community.
I am one person and nothing I did threatens the fabric of society. You were the chief of police and what you did shook the foundation of an entire police department and the district attorneys office, who I believe helped you get away with crimes, at least for a short period of time….
Your crime was first against me, and then against the entire system of justice. You came to my house. You had me arrested. When I was suffering from the consequences of addiction, you handcuffed me to a ring in the floor, and you beat me repeatedly. You threatened to kill me. You degraded me and you humiliated me, all while I was unable to defend myself. Your henchmen threatened to arrest and rape my elderly mother.
You bragged to your officers at how helpless and pathetic I was and fondly recalled abusing other suspects during your career as a police officer. Apparently I'm not the only person you beat up. I can only imagine the countless others who have suffered at your hands.
While you were committing these crimes, you wore a badge and a gun and not just any badge, but that as the chief of the Suffolk County Police Department. Your abuse of power and the public's trust is appalling. Not only did you ruin your own career and reputation, but you ruined the careers and reputations of your subordinates, whom helped you assault me and who helped -- excuse me -- whom helped you assault me and who you ordered to help cover up your criminal conduct.
Your rise to power makesmany people doubt the legitimacy of the Suffolk County Police Department and the integrity of the political leaders who promoted you.
I thought you would get away with threatening and brutally assaulting me. You told me that no one would believe me. You told me my word was not good against that of a decorated police chief. You laughed at me when I asked for a lawyer. You said to me, quote-unquote, this isn't Law and Order, you [expletive].
Well, unfortunately today, for the first time in my life, my belief in the justice system has surfaced because today, Defendant Burke, there is law and there is order.
I know I'm not perfect. I have struggled throughout my life and made errors and for that I truly am sorry. But the punishment for someone accused of petty thefts should never entail a vicious beating by the chief of police. When those entrusted to carry out and protect the laws of our government abuse that power and commit crimes against others, the public's faith in the system collapses. When we can't count on law enforcement to protect us, who can we trust and how can any of us feel safe?
I will never feel safe again after what you and your officers did to me. I will never again feel comfortable living in the confines of Suffolk County, the place I used to call home. Every day I fear retribution by other police officers in Suffolk for my role in your downfall.
Today, you ask for mercy from this court because of your ill mother. If you had been thinking about your mother when you had me chained to a floor, maybe you would not have officers threaten to rape mine, maybe you would not have assaulted me, and then maybe none of us would be in this courtroom today. But whatever you were thinking when I was in your custody you committed a crime, several crimes actually.
My problems with the law led me to jail and prison and separation from my family and my family's separation from me. I missed several funerals of loved ones. I missed spending time with my grandmother who helped raise me before she passed away, among other events. You see, I already know what you are about to learn: when you commit a crime, your family suffers along with you.
Your Honor, thank you for taking this time to listen to me. I cannot pretend to know what an appropriate sentence is in a case like this, but I simply request that you take into consideration the physical and emotional pain this defendant inflicted on me and my family, the climate of fear the defendant created within the Suffolk County Police Department, his gross abuse of power, and the lengths he went to cover them up.
I hope that the sentence you impose helps restore the public's faith in the fair administration of justice and, most importantly, sends a message that misconduct by those in a position of power will never be tolerated. Hopefully other leaders in the law enforcement community will think twice before committing a crime.
I'm finished. Thank you, Judge.