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Attorney off Suffolk Police Chief Burke case

Suffolk Chief of Police James C. Burke. (June

Suffolk Chief of Police James C. Burke. (June 3, 2013) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

The attorney representing the Smithtown man accused of breaking into Suffolk Police Chief James Burke's department-issued vehicle asked to be taken off the case Friday.

Judge Martin Efman granted defense lawyer Toni Marie Angeli's application to be relieved from representing Christopher Loeb on the condition that another attorney take over the case.

The Garden City-based attorney told the court she had a conflict and asked to be removed, a court spokesman confirmed.

She was initially replaced by Michael J. Brown, a Central Islip-based attorney who is also a former prosecutor at the Suffolk County district attorney's office. But within an hour, Brown said he had reconsidered and was no longer accepting the assignment, the spokesman said.

Angeli will continue to represent Loeb until a replacement is found, which could be next week, the spokesman said. Angeli refused to comment on the matter.

The application comes days after sources said that federal officials are investigating Burke to see if he violated Loeb's civil rights.

The FBI served nearly a dozen subpoenas to Suffolk police officers, detectives and headquarters personnel who may have direct knowledge or indirect knowledge of what happened the day of Loeb's arrest at his Smithtown home or at the Fourth Precinct where he was processed. More subpoenas will be issued soon, the sources said.

Loeb, 26, was held on a $500,000 bond at a Riverhead jail since his Dec. 14, 2012, arrest until federal authorities took him into custody Tuesday as a material witness.

Loeb faces charges that include fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth- and fifth-degree possession of stolen property, seventh-degree possession of a controlled substance and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon after allegedly implicating himself in a police statement.

Police and prosecutors say Loeb and an accomplice took a bag out of Burke's department-issued vehicle. Records show Burke's bag contained a gun belt, ammunition, cigars and other items.

Loeb told family members that Burke punched him in the Fourth Precinct squad room hours after his arrest, his mother, Jane Loeb, said earlier this month.

Suffolk Police Commissioner Ed Webber and Burke have declined to comment. Burke denied any wrongdoing earlier this month.

-- With Andrew Smith


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