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Federal prosecutors oppose Spota ex-aide's request for surrender delay

Christoper McPartland arrives in federal court in Central

Christoper McPartland arrives in federal court in Central Islip in June. Credit: James Carbone

Federal prosecutors have opposed a disbarred ex-Suffolk prosecutor's request to delay his prison surrender date as he and former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota await a judge's decision on whether they can stay free on bail while appealing their corruption convictions.

Christopher McPartland's bail motion "is very likely to fail" before the case's trial judge and a federal appeals court, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District said in a court filing Friday.

"Extending the defendant's surrender date merely because his weak motion has not yet been fully adjudicated would heap delay upon delay, for no legitimate purpose, in favor of the defendant's concerted effort to avoid serving his prison sentence," the prosecution's team of lawyers added.

Last week a lawyer for McPartland, 55, of Northport, asked U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack to change his client's surrender from Nov. 10 to Dec. 10 — the surrender date she previously assigned to Spota.

A jury in 2019 convicted both defendants of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, witness tampering and acting as accessories to the deprivation of prisoner Christopher Loeb's civil rights.

Former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke beat Loeb at a Hauppauge police precinct with three detectives in 2012. It happened after Loeb, then a heroin addict, stole a duffel bag from Burke's department vehicle that had items inside it that included his gun belt and ammunition, along with pornography, Viagra and sex toys.

Jurors found that Spota and McPartland orchestrated a cover-up of the beating.

Burke served most of a 46-month prison sentence before his release to a halfway house after pleading guilty in 2016 to conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and the deprivation of Loeb's civil rights.

In August, Azrack sentenced both McPartland and Spota, 80, of Mount Sinai, to five years in prison.

McPartland's attorney, Larry Krantz, said in part while recently asking Azrack for a delay in his client's surrender date that it would give the defense more time to work with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to try to change McPartland's custody assignment.

Krantz said federal prison authorities initially decided McPartland would be confined in an East Coast prison camp after he said Azrack recommended that McPartland serve his incarceration at such a facility in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

But Krantz said the federal agency then made a change that would present "a great hardship" to his client by switching McPartland's assignment to a Federal Correctional Institution in Texas that is a "non-camp facility."

Federal prison "camps" have a minimum level of security, with dormitory housing and limited or no perimeter fencing, according to the Bureau of Prisons' website. It describes Federal Correctional Institutions as low-security facilities with double-fenced perimeters and mostly dormitory or cubicle housing.

But federal prosecutors said in their Friday filing that the defense "has it backwards" in terms of McPartland's custody assignment.

They said the Bureau of Prisons recently assigned McPartland to a low-security Texas facility with an adjacent minimum security camp after first designating him for custody at a Federal Correctional Institution in West Virginia "which was not a 'camp facility.'"

The prosecution team also wrote that its concern about delays in the start of the defendants' time in prison, as expressed at sentencing, "appears to have been justified" with respect to McPartland.

"The defendant was given approximately 90 days to surrender," the U.S. Attorney's Office also said, while asking Azrack to deny McPartland's request for a monthlong extension.

John Marzulli, a spokesman for prosecutors, declined to comment further Monday. Krantz also declined to comment on the government's filing.

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