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Prosecutors turning over evidence in Spota-McPartland case, government says

Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota leaves

Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota leaves federal court in Central Islip on Wednesday. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they are close to turning over the remaining pretrial evidence they have to the defense in the obstruction of justice case against former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and a former chief aide, Christopher McPartland.

The Eastern District’s prosecutors’ remarks came in a brief status conference in the case before U.S. District Judge Joan M. Azrack in Central Islip, where prosecutors said they anticipated turning over to the defense the remaining pretrial discovery material by the end of July.

But prosecutors added that their investigation is continuing and any further evidence they come across they will also turn over.

Spota, 76, of Mount Sinai, and McPartland, 52, of Northport — head of the district attorney’s anti-corruption unit — were arrested in October and accused of helping to cover up an assault by former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke, a longtime protégé of Spota.

Both Spota and McPartland have pleaded not guilty to a four-count indictment charging them with conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and obstruct an official proceeding; witness tampering and obstruction of an official proceeding; obstruction of justice; and accessory after the fact to the deprivation of civil rights.

They were released on $500,000 bond and have had their travel restricted to the continental United States.

Azrack set a trial date for March 19.

If convicted, they could each face up to 20 years in prison.

Burke, who was also a colleague and friend of McPartland, is serving a 46-month sentence in federal prison after pleading guilty on Feb. 26, 2016 to a civil rights violation and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

The former chief was convicted of violating the civil rights of a man, Christopher Loeb, whom he assaulted and whose attack he then covered up.

Loeb stole a duffel bag from Burke’s department sport utility vehicle which reportedly contained a gun belt, cigars, sex toys and pornography, officials said.

In court papers at the time of Spota’s and McPartland’s arrests, prosecutors said that the two, Burke, and other unidentified members of the Suffolk County Police Department “had numerous meetings and telephone conversations wherein they discussed the assault,” the victim’s allegations against Burke, and the federal investigation.

Spota and Burke “operated in a manner more akin to criminal enterprise than a district attorney’s office,” the prosecutors said.

Spota’s attorney, former acting Eastern District Attorney Alan Vinegrad, maintained his client’s innocence after his arraignment in October, saying: “Tom Spota committed no crime . . . in fact, for many years of a very long and distinguished career, Tom has worked hard to investigate and prosecute crime and deliver justice to the residents of Suffolk County.”

McPartland’s attorney, Larry Krantz, said at the time of the arrest: “Chris McPartland has always been an honest and dedicated public servant. He vehemently denies the charges and asserts his innocence.”

Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys commented after the brief court proceeding on Wednesday.

The judge set Dec. 5 as the next court date for the case.

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