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James Burke's letter asking not to be sent to prison

The following is the letter filed Thursday in federal court in Central Islip in which former Suffolk police chief James Burke asks U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler that he not be sentenced to prison.

Dear Judge Wexler:

It is with great humility and remorse that I write you this letter. I sincerely apologize to the victim, to my subordinates who I permitted to take part in these offenses, to my colleagues and those who entrusted me, to the men and women of the Suffolk County Police Department, to the citizens of Suffolk County and to you, Your Honor, for my actions.

 I have been a police officer for nearly 31 years, 25 of which as a supervisor. I fully believe that one must be accountable for one’s actions. I stand accountable for my actions and accept responsibility and the consequences that result from them. I believe in our system of justice and have every faith and confidence in your fairness and impartiality.

Please consider my thirty-one years of service in rendering your sentence. I believe I have done much good for many people from all walks of life during my career. I am proud of that. I hope Your Honor considers my record in public service at sentencing.

As you know, there are many collateral consequences associated with my sentencing. Including losing the right to vote and being labeled a felon. Both of which will deeply affect me.

The greatest consequence involves my mother. She was a single mother who suffered through much tragedy in her life and made many sacrifices in raising me and my siblings. In 1999, at age 59, she was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. In what I considered the greatest quest of my life, I took control of her health care and was involved on a daily basis with her treatment. It is now seventeen years later and she now 75 years old. Her situation is nothing short of a medical miracle. She is presently undergoing immunotherapy, is confined to a wheelchair and requires oxygen 24 hours a day. She struggled to write you a letter in her own hand.

It would be unbearable for me to be in prison as her condition deteriorated and she passes
from this earth, severely restricted in my ability to communicate. I suffered through a life threatening illness when I was six weeks old. My mom and I have faired the direst of circumstances together. She does not deserve the consequences of dying while her oldest son, who has generally done good for most of his life, is in prison. I beseech you, Your Honor, to consider this situation in rendering your sentence.

Finally, Your Honor, I want you to know I have a deep abiding love for our country. I come from a long line of men who were instrumental in my life. My uncle Michael served in combat in Vietnam and was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. He lived with us upon his return and helped raise me. He has submitted a letter to you in support of me. My grandfather and father spent their careers in law enforcement. Presently two of my younger brothers serve honorably in the NYPD.

Thank you for your consideration, Your Honor. I ask for your leniency and in closing, I am heartily sorry for my actions. I understand the consequences of my criminal conduct. I will not return to criminal behavior nor am I a danger to society.


James Burke


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