James Burke at his arraignment in Central Islip on Sept. 11.

James Burke at his arraignment in Central Islip on Sept. 11. Credit: Dennis A. Clark

Suffolk County prosecutors and an attorney for disgraced former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke, who was charged in September with public lewdness and indecent exposure, are discussing a possible plea agreement, his attorney said.

A hearing in the case scheduled for Friday morning before acting Suffolk County Judge James Saladino in First District Court in Central Islip was adjourned, according to Burke’s attorney, as the talks continue. Burke did not appear Friday at the Cohalan Court Complex.

“It was adjourned because the defense and the prosecution are discussing a resolution to this matter,” said attorney James O’Rourke of Hauppauge.

Tania Lopez, a spokeswoman for Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney, declined to comment.

James Burke pleaded not guilty to the charges at a brief arraignment on Sept. 11. Suffolk Judge Bernard Cheng had ordered Burke released on his own recognizance.

The former chief-of-department is a felon whose federal prosecution for beating a handcuffed suspect and covering it up more than a decade ago left an ethical stain on the department. He was arrested following an interaction with an undercover park ranger during a sex solicitation sting at 10 a.m. at Vietnam Veterans Memorial County Park in Farmingville on Aug. 22, according to police and court records.

A criminal complaint says Burke allegedly pulled down his pants, exposed his private parts, touched himself “in a sexual manner” and made a statement to the officer about how he enjoys performing a certain sex act.

Police previously said Burke attempted to use his former law enforcement status — and an appeal for sympathy due to the nature of the allegations — to avoid being arrested. He had a small amount of marijuana and a muscle relaxant at the time of his arrest, a law enforcement source told Newsday at that time. The former chief has not been charged with any drug offenses.

The sting was conducted by the Suffolk County Park Rangers’ Targeted Response Unit due to “numerous complaints” that people were soliciting sex at the park, police have said.

Burke’s latest arrest came weeks after the department had come under fire for the initial police failings to crack the Gilgo Beach serial killer case, following the recent arrest of Rex A. Heuermann — 13 years after the victims’ remains were found. Burke had cut out the FBI from the investigation, declining to share expertise and resources, which law enforcement officials have since conceded hurt the earlier investigation.

Burke, who was Suffolk’s highest-ranking uniformed officer for four years, was arrested in December 2015 after he was indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and violating the civil rights of Christopher Loeb, then 26, of Smithtown and then orchestrating a departmental cover-up of the crime.

In February 2016, he pleaded guilty, and nine months later Wexler sentenced Burke to 46 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release. Burke was released from federal prison in November 2018.

Suffolk police had arrested Loeb, a heroin addict at the time, on Dec. 14, 2012, after he was suspected of stealing a duffel bag containing a gun belt, ammunition, sex toys and pornography from Burke’s unmarked police SUV in front of the chief’s home.

Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and top aide Christopher McPartland were later convicted of charges, including conspiracy, witness tampering and obstruction in connection with the federal investigation of Burke. They are serving 5-year prison sentences. A federal court of appeals panel recently affirmed their convictions.

The county paid Loeb a $1.5 million settlement over the beating.

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