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Christopher McPartland gets legal defense fund

A legal defense fund has been created for

A legal defense fund has been created for former Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Christopher McPartland, who is fighting federal obstruction of justice charges. Credit: Newsday / Daniel Goodrich

A legal-defense fund has been set up for former Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Christopher McPartland as the county’s former top corruption prosecutor and former District Attorney Thomas Spota prepare for federal trial.

James O’Rourke, a Port Jefferson attorney and former law partner of Spota’s, said he sent letters asking for donations earlier this month to the Suffolk legal community.

O’Rourke declined to say how much has been raised so far, but described the response as “not overwhelming, but not bad. Attorneys have notoriously short arms.”

He said McPartland is “under extreme pressure to defend himself. And I’d like to level the playing field between the defense and the majesty of the federal government.”

Spota has not given or been asked to give any money, O’Rourke said.

The letter said McPartland served “for over twenty-five years with distinction. Chris successfully prosecuted many types of crime over decades while also working to ensure the rights of defendants were not abused.”

Spota and McPartland have pleaded not guilty to federal charges of taking part in a cover-up of an assault by former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke. The trial is slated to start March 18.

“Mr. McPartland has vehemently denied the charges from day one, and we look forward to his day in court,” his attorney, Larry Krantz, said in an email last Thursday.

A federal judge in December rejected a request by McPartland to have the government pay for his legal defense.

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