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A look at DA Thomas Spota's response to Newsday story on Robert Macedonio case

Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota speaks at a

Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota speaks at a news conference on Thursday, May 12, 2016, after Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone called for him to resign. Credit: James Carbone

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, at a news conference Thursday, criticized Newsday’s recent story on his office’s investigation of attorney Robert Macedonio, calling it “fundamentally flawed” and urging that it be “disregarded in its entirety.”

To support his claim, Spota pointed to a part of the story that involved a tip to investigators in the Macedonio case. Newsday reported that investigators had been told a prosecutor in Spota’s office, John Scott Prudenti, had helped secure the early release of a violent felon Macedonio represented. The alleged bribe was disguised, investigators were told, as a payment to charter Prudenti’s boat, Christina Marie.

Spota said at the news conference that it was “absolutely not so” that Macedonio represented the felon, who was convicted in 2000 for his part in a home invasion robbery and sentenced to seven years in prison. Spota added that Prudenti, who prosecuted the felon, had in fact pressed for a stiff sentence.

Spota was correct about those facts; however, he was not responding to the episode Newsday described. Spota evidently was referring to the felon’s initial prosecution and not the events surrounding his 2004 release from prison, which were the focus of Newsday’s story. In the court proceedings that led to the early release, records and hearing transcripts show, Macedonio represented the felon and Prudenti argued that he deserved special consideration.

Spota’s office did not respond to an interview request. Newsday stands behind its story, Editor Deborah Henley said.

Spota also said at the news conference that every allegation of public corruption that arose in the Macedonio case was “exhaustively investigated,” yet none could be substantiated. Officials familiar with the investigation who spoke to Newsday for its story contradicted that assertion and said attempts at pursuing leads on corruption were consistently frustrated by superiors.

After Spota made his remarks, a reporter at the news conference asked him about the planned robbery of a marijuana dealer mentioned in the Newsday story. Investigators learned of the plot on a wiretap and apprehended two men armed with a gun and zip ties that they planned to use to tie up victims, Newsday reported. The men were not charged, Newsday reported, and officials familiar with the case said they believed that was because Spota’s office didn’t want to pursue arrests and risk exposing its investigation.

The reporter asked Spota whether it was in fact true that the men had been let go. Spota responded that one of the men had gone to prison for seven or eight years.

An organizer of the robbery did get an eight-year prison sentence. However, the man went to prison in 2011 — four years after being caught on the wire during the Macedonio probe. The man’s conviction and prison sentence were unrelated to Spota’s Macedonio prosecution years earlier.

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