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Suffolk detectives questioned by DA's office over leaks to press, say sources

A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in

A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Central Islip on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, on behalf of 21 Latinos who live in Suffolk County, alleges that the Suffolk County Police Department targeted Latinos for race-based traffic stops, then robbed them or gave them unjustified summonses. Credit: Newsday / Alan Raia

Two veteran Suffolk detectives who were once part of the federal Long Island Gang Task Force have been questioned by the district attorney's office about police department leaks to the press, sources said.

John Oliva and William Maldonado were separately questioned Monday by district attorney's office investigators and told there was a criminal investigation underway, the sources said.

Oliva, sources said, was pulled over by a marked patrol car and an unmarked vehicle and questioned on the road. The two district attorney investigators showed him a search warrant and took his phone and told him he could be facing criminal charges if he is found to be the generator of the leaks.

Sources said Oliva, a detective now working at the Fifth Precinct, refused to go with the investigators.

Investigators from the district attorney's office pulled Maldonado out of the Arson and Bomb Squad office Monday morning and took him to the DA's office for questioning, sources said. He was detained and then released a short time later, sources said.

It is unclear which leaks are the focus of the investigation.

Between April 2010 and August 2012, in their capacity as members of the task force, Maldonado and Oliva helped arrest 27 gang members linked to 12 homicides, more than 20 assaults and more than a dozen robberies, including many tied to crimes in Brentwood and Huntington Station.

Maldonado and Oliva were honored by the Suffolk Legislature last month for their task force work.

When asked about the probe into the leaks, District Attorney Thomas Spota's spokesman Bob Clifford said, "I don't know what you're talking about."

William Plant, president of the Suffolk Detectives Association -- the union charged with protecting the rights of the officers who are both veteran detectives -- hung up on a reporter and did not return a call for comment.

On Feb. 5, 2014, according to notes circulated about the SDA's meeting with members that month, Plant and first vice president James L. Hughes met with the county and the department "regarding the ongoing problem with information being provided to Newsday that shouldn't be getting released (details of ongoing investigations, IAB case details, etc.)," the meeting notes said. "All LE [law enforcement] unions are keeping the pressure on DA Spota to fully investigate the situation."

One source said the questioning of the two detectives was an act of intimidation. "These are two hardworking, honorable police officers," the source said.

The Suffolk Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

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