Christopher Loeb, the man whose beating by Suffolk Police Chief James Burke led to the chief’s conviction and the indictments of District Attorney Thomas Spota and one of his top aides, has been arrested again.
Loeb, 31, of Hearthside Drive in Mount Sinai, was arrested Monday on charges in connection with the break-in of a car, theft of a purse and credit cards and theft of his mother’s car, police said Tuesday. He faces charges of fourth-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property, possession of a hypodermic instrument and unauthorized use of a vehicle, said Assistant Police Commissioner Justin Meyers.
Burke was convicted last year of violating Loeb’s civil rights after pleading guilty to assaulting him, and then engaging in obstruction of justice by orchestrating a cover-up of the attack.
Burke’s wrongdoing led to last month’s federal indictment of Spota and aide Christopher McPartland on charges they were involved in the cover-up. Both Spota and McPartland pleaded not guilty and were released on bail. Spota has said he is retiring.
Loeb’s arraignment Tuesday in First District Court in Central Islip took place in two parts after his Bohemia attorney, Harry Tilis, requested a special prosecutor, saying prosecution by Spota’s office after the district attorney’s indictment created a “conflict” and the “appearance of impropriety.”
“This is the guy that the media ties to former police Chief Burke and by extension our district attorney,” Tilis said of Loeb.
After a recess, Judge Jennifer A. Henry said Mark Cohen, the supervising judge for Suffolk County Court, would issue an order Wednesday naming Islandia defense attorney William Ferris the special prosecutor in the case.
Ferris asked for Loeb to be held on $50,000 bail — higher than the $30,000 that Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Gutierrez requested — saying Loeb had stolen his mother’s car before and “demolished” it.
“The mother has tried to do what she can for her son,” Ferris told Henry. “We have a person who disregards court orders . . . disregards the people who are trying to help him.”
Tilis, who entered denials on the felony charges and not-guilty pleas on the misdemeanors and asked for a much lower bail, countered that his client has “every reason not to trust” the justice system.
The possibility of Loeb receiving “substantial damages,” as a result of his assault in the Burke case, would ensure he would come back to court, Tilis said.
“He’s too public a figure,” Tilis said of Loeb. “He can’t hide. He’s coming to court.”
Henry, citing Loeb’s rap sheet — two felony convictions, one violent, and three misdemeanor convictions, as well as three probation revocations — ordered Loeb held on $25,000 bail.
Meyers said Loeb was discharged from John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson at 4:45 p.m. Saturday and broke into an unlocked car and stole a pocketbook with cash and credit cards inside. Meyers did not say why Loeb was hospitalized.
Later that night, he said, Loeb’s mother reported her car stolen.
Loeb was “in possession” of his mother’s vehicle, six credit cards from the stolen purse in the other car, and a hypodermic needle, Meyers said.
Loeb’s December 2012 arrest set off the events that led to the conviction of Burke and the subsequent indictments of Spota and McPartland.
He was charged with violating parole and breaking into cars in his Smithtown neighborhood. One of those cars was a police vehicle used by Burke, and Loeb took a duffel bag that contained a gun belt, ammunition, handcuffs, a whistle, a box of cigars, several sex toys and what Loeb described as “nasty pornography.”
Burke later admitted that he beat Loeb while he was in custody at the Fourth Precinct in Hauppauge and orchestrated a cover-up. Burke is serving 46 months in prison.
The latest arrest isn’t the first time Loeb has been in trouble since getting out of prison.
In December 2015, police said he was involved in a fight at a Mount Sinai condo complex at about 2 a.m. No one was charged.
In February 2016, he was charged with harassment after authorities say he hit his mother, Jane Loeb, during an argument. The charges are pending.
Loeb was arrested in August 2017 and charged with violating an order of protection against his former girlfriend, Suffolk police said.
Meyers said at the time that Loeb was charged with second-degree criminal contempt after sending the woman emails in violation of the order. He pleaded not guilty. The charges are pending.
In the original case involving Burke, Loeb pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon, but state Supreme Court Justice Richard Ambro vacated the plea in February after Ferris — the special prosecutor in the case — agreed with Barket that the plea was unjustly coerced and tainted by police perjury. He entered the plea after a pretrial hearing in which several Suffolk officers and detectives testified under oath that they didn’t see Burke beat Loeb.
But when the plea was vacated, the original indictment, which included stealing property and other charges, was reinstated. Loeb again pleaded not guilty to those charges, which included a count of breaking into Burke’s police vehicle and stealing a duffel bag. A defense motion is now pending before Ambro to dismiss the indictment, arguing that any conviction would again rely on Suffolk police witnesses who have committed perjury.
Even if Loeb is found guilty, he cannot serve any more prison time on those charges because he already served the maximum possible before his conviction was reversed.
With Joan Gralla