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Steve Levy sues to block release of 2011 non-prosecution deal

Then-Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy speaks at a

Then-Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy speaks at a news conference in August 2011.   Credit: Howard Schnapp

Former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has filed suit against the county District Attorney’s Office to block release of an agreement he reached with ex-District Attorney Thomas Spota in 2011 that required him to relinquish his $4 million campaign fund, ending Levy’s political career, according to a response to a Newsday information request.

In June 1 letter to Newsday, Dennis M. Cohen, the Suffolk County attorney, said the district attorney's office had "intended to provide the requested Non-Prosecution Agreement," but a separate petition filed by Levy "prevents the document's release at this time." The letter was in response to a February Freedom of Information Law request seeking a copy of Levy’s nonprosecution agreement.

The court filing referred to by the district attorney’s office is titled "Anonymous" vs. the Suffolk district attorney’s office, and all files in the proceeding are under seal and unavailable. The case was filed May 17, as the district attorney’s office was processing Newsday’s request for release.

What to know

  • Former Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has sued to block release of an agreement he reached with ex-District Attorney Thomas Spota in 2011 that required him to relinquish his $4 million campaign fund.
  • After Spota's 16-month investigation, Levy announced he would not seek reelection.
  • Newsday had filed a Freedom of Information Law request in February seeking a copy of Levy’s non-prosecution agreement.

David Besso, an attorney for Levy, declined to comment or to make Levy available to comment.

A spokesman for current Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini did not provide a comment.

When he first disclosed in 2011 that he would not seek reelection following Spota’s 16-month investigation, Levy acknowledged "questions have been raised concerning fundraising through my political campaign." Levy added that since the activity, which he did not disclose, "occurred under my watch, I accept responsibility." He turned over his campaign war chest to Spota.

Cohen’s letter to Newsday said release of the document awaits court approval.

Newsday in February filed the request for the agreement after Levy’s January 2020 remarks about the pact following the conviction of Spota on federal obstruction charges. Spota and his anti-corruption chief Christopher McPartland were found guilty of covering up the beating of burglary suspect Christopher Loeb by former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke.

In a Newsday opinion piece titled "Levy opens up about deal with Spota," Levy alleged he was "being targeted" by the district attorney but had kept silent about his claims for fear of being branded "delusional and paranoid."

Levy downplayed the "irregularities" he’d been accused of that resulted in the agreement, saying they involved using county telephones or computers for campaign purposes, and calling the offenses "not a death-penalty item." He also said he regretted giving back the money because what he did "implied something nefarious."

The Suffolk District Attorney’s Office under Spota, a Democrat, has never previously released a copy of the agreement with Levy.

Reached Wednesday afternoon, Alan Vinegrad, an attorney for Spota, said he was considering whether or not to comment on Levy's past allegations about the agreement and how it was reached.

Spota in 2011 said his office’s investigation of Levy raised "serious issues with regard to fundraising and the manner in which it was conducted" by Levy’s campaign. Levy had switched parties in a failed bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2010.

Newsday last month reported that according to newly unsealed records, federal prosecutors in the obstruction case against Spota and McPartland had sought to present evidence that Spota and his top lieutenant plotted with Burke to remove Levy from office because they saw him as "anti-cop" and "uncontrollable." The report said McPartland pressured a top Levy aide into cooperating by revealing that the aide had a gay lover.

An attorney for McPartland, Larry Krantz, has denied the allegation as "demonstrably false," noting the charges were "appropriately excluded from the trial and vehemently denied" by McPartland.

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