Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide are appealing their convictions and 5-year prison sentences on corruption charges stemming from the cover-up of a police prisoner beating, according to legal papers filed Tuesday.
Spota, 79, of Mount Sinai, and Christopher McPartland, 55, of Northport, were both sentenced last week, following their 2019 convictions on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and acting as accessories to the deprivation of the prisoner’s civil rights.
On Tuesday, Spota and McPartland’s attorneys each separately filed to the court a one-page "notice of appeal" of both the convictions and the sentences. No legal arguments were included.
McPartland’s lawyer Larry Krantz declined to comment. Spota’s attorney Alan Vinegrad did not respond to an email requesting comment.
U.S. District Judge Joan M. Azrack last week handed down sentences on the lower end of the federal sentencing guidelines for Spota and McPartland, which ranged from 57 to 71 months in prison.
The prosecution had asked the judge to exceed the guidelines, citing the damage to public trust in law enforcement, and to sentence them to 8 years in prison. The defense had asked for no prison time.
Spota, elected district attorney in 2001, and McPartland, who ran his anti-corruption bureau, orchestrated the cover-up of the Dec. 14, 2012, assault of prisoner Christopher Loeb by Police Chief James Burke, prosecutors argued at trial.
Loeb had stolen a duffel bag containing sex toys, PBA cards, his gun belt, ammunition, a box of cigars, pornography and Viagra from Burke’s unlocked police department vehicle in St. James.
Burke was Spota’s longtime protégé and one of McPartland’s best friends, which federal prosecutors argued spurred them to impede two federal investigations into the former chief's beating of Loeb at the Fourth Precinct in Hauppauge.
Lawyers for both defendants have argued Burke never admitted to them that he committed the assault, therefore they were not part of the cover-up. It was Burke who organized the cover-up, the lawyers said. Burke, who pleaded guilty, served most of his 46-month sentence.
The attorneys have also argued that the prosecution’s key witness, former Suffolk Police Lt. James Hickey, who they contended had a mental breakdown and was a serial philanderer, gave false testimony. In an earlier argument for a new trial, the attorneys said Hickey testified at trial about three incidents that were not mentioned in notes taken by government investigators.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment on the appeal.