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Appeals court denies bail request from ex-DA Thomas Spota and former top aide

Former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota and Christopher

Former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota and Christopher McPartland in August, 2021. Credit: James Carbone

Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide, sentenced to five years in federal prison on corruption charges, will have to report to prison next week after an appeals court denied their requests to remain free on bail while they appeal their convictions.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in a one-page order dated Nov. 23, denied the requests for what is known in the federal system as "bail pending appeal" from Spota and his co-defendant Christopher McPartland. Both men are due to surrender to the federal Bureau of Prisons before 2 p.m. on Dec. 10.

Spota, 80, of Mt. Sinai, and McPartland, 55, of Northport, were found guilty of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and acting as accessories to the deprivation of prisoner Christopher Loeb’s civil rights after former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke assaulted Loeb in a police precinct in 2012. Federal prosecutors said Spota and McPartland orchestrated a cover-up of the assault of Loeb, then a heroin addict, after Loeb stole a duffel bag that held Burke’s gun belt, ammunition, Viagra, sex toys and pornography.

Burke pleaded guilty in 2016 to obstruction of justice and the deprivation of Loeb’s rights and served most of a 46-month prison sentence.

U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack, who presided over the former Suffolk prosecutors’ 2019 jury trial, last month denied the bail request, saying it failed to raise substantial questions of law that were likely to result in a reversal or a new trial, prompting the lawyers to seek relief from the Second Circuit.

Spota’s attorney, Alan Vinegrad, did not respond to requests for comment and McPartland’s lawyer, Larry Krantz, declined to comment. John Marzulli, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, which had argued against the defendant’s remaining free on bail while they appeal, declined to comment on the appeals court decision.

Spota's attorneys had argued the defendants' convictions were likely to be overturned on appeal because they were based on "guilt by association" due to evidence Azrack allowed to be admitted at trial detailing "bad acts by Mr. Burke."

The Bureau of Prisons last month assigned McPartland to a low-security section of a Texas prison, despite his attorney’s request that he be placed in a minimum-security prison camp, which are generally reserved for nonviolent offenders.

The prison assignment for Spota has not been revealed in federal court filings.

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