Half the Suffolk Legislature’s Democratic caucus called Wednesday for District Attorney Thomas Spota to resign, breaking ranks with county Democratic chief Rich Schaffer, who said Spota should serve out his term.
“It’s an accusation. He’s not pled guilty to anything, not been found guilty of anything,” Schaffer said of Spota, a Democrat whose term ends Dec. 31.
Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague) agreed. “This is not the end of this story and I think the process should play out,” he said.
But Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue), the deputy presiding officer, said, “For the sake of the justice system, he needs to step down.”
Democratic legislators Kara Hahn (D-Setauket); William Lindsay III (D-Bohemia); Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai); William Spencer (D-Centerport); and Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) also called on Spota to resign.
So did Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley), who last year was the lone member of the Democratic caucus to urge Spota to step down after reports surfaced about a federal probe of the district attorney’s office.
Their comments came after Spota and Christopher McPartland, head of the district attorney’s political corruption unit, were indicted on federal charges that they were involved in a cover-up of former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke’s assault of a suspect in 2012. Spota and McPartland pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.
On Wednesday, Democratic County Executive Steve Bellone renewed the call he made last year for Spota to resign.
“The person holding the awesome power to decide whether people go to jail or not cannot effectively serve under federal indictment for corruption,” Bellone said in a statement.
Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, a Conservative who had criticized Spota for not helping him investigate Conservative Party Chairman Edward Walsh, also a sheriff’s lieutenant, called it “a good day for the residents of Suffolk County.” A federal jury convicted Walsh for collecting $200,000 in county pay while golfing, politicking and gambling.
Both Police Commissioner Tim Sini, a Democrat who’s running for district attorney, and his GOP opponent, criminal defense attorney Ray Perini, said Spota should resign.
Five of six Republican lawmakers already had urged Spota to quit. Legis. Tom Barraga (R-West Islip) has not.