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Judge sets trial schedule for ex-DA Thomas Spota, aide McPartland

Christopher McPartland, left, and ex-Suffolk DA Thomas Spota,

Christopher McPartland, left, and ex-Suffolk DA Thomas Spota, to his right, leave court June 27, 2019 with lawyers. Credit: John Roca

A federal judge Thursday set a Nov. 12 date for jury selection in the trial of former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and the head of his anti-corruption unit, Christopher McPartland.

U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack also set Sept. 4 for the next hearing in the case, at which time prosecutors and defense attorneys will argue pretrial motions.

At a brief hearing Thursday in federal court in Central Islip, Eastern District U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz said that the government should finish handing over to the defense what prosecutors have described as “voluminous” discovery material by the end of July.

Following jury selection, lawyers will give opening statements and testimony will begin.

Spota and McPartland are charged with helping to cover up the beating of Christopher Loeb, who stole  a duffel bag from the police department SUV of former Suffolk police chief James Burke. 

Burke was convicted of beating Loeb in September 2012 after Loeb, 28, was arrested and charged in the SUV break-in. Burke served 46 months in federal prison after being convicted of depriving Loeb of his civil rights and conspiring to obstruct justice in the case.

Spota and McPartland are each charged with four felonies: 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 each theoretically face up to 20 years in prison if convicted, but would probably receive a lesser sentence under federal sentencing guidelines.

Federal prosecutors previously said they have been turning over to the defense tens of thousands of pages of emails from 2012 to 2017 from Suffolk County, involving nine unnamed people.

Most recently the prosecutors said in court papers that they have given the Spota and McPartland defense “electronically-saved files, emails, and calendars maintained by the Suffolk County Department of Information Technology," from Dec. 14, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2017, involving Spota, McPartland, Burke, and others whose names were blacked out.

The Loeb arrest took place on Dec. 2, 2012 , and Spota and McPartland were arrested and charged in October 2017.   

The prosecutors also said they recently have turned over to the defense the records of the office of the Suffolk County district attorney regarding the Loeb case.      

Afterward the court appearance, Spota and his attorney Alan Vinegrad declined to comment, as did McPartland’s his attorney Larry Krantz. Gatz and Justina Geraci also declined to comment. 

In previous court records, prosecutors have outlined parts of the government’s case.

Prosecutors have said that two unidentified former members of the Suffolk County police department are cooperating with the government after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice and are hoping to get a reduced sentence. 

In court papers, prosecutors have said that their case will be backed up by other material, “including other [unnamed] witnesses and documentary evidence, including telephone records.”

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