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Long IslandSuffolk

William Maldonado, detective pulled off task force by indicted ex-chief, restored to panel

Former Suffolk County Police Chief of Department James

Former Suffolk County Police Chief of Department James Burke removed a detective from a federal gang task force who is now being restored to the position. Photo Credit: James Carbone / File

One of three remaining detectives abruptly pulled off a federal gang task force in 2012 has been reappointed to the post, Suffolk Deputy Police Commissioner Tim Sini said Wednesday.

Sini, tapped by County Executive Steve Bellone to become commissioner next month, pending legislative approval, said the move is part of the department’s effort to restore a good working relationship with federal law enforcement.

He said the decision to put Arson Bomb Squad Det. William Maldonado back on the task force — along with a second detective from the same squad — was the result of several meetings with the U.S. attorney’s office.

“Our federal partners specifically requested Det. Maldonado,” said Sini. “His record is excellent.”

The detectives’ removal in August 2012 had crippled several federal homicide investigations, sources said then.

Former Chief of Department James Burke, now facing a federal indictment, ordered their removal in August 2012. The three, including Maldonado, had been credited with solving some of the most brutal gang homicide cases in the county while on the task force.

Their removal at the time baffled law enforcement sources who worked closely with them, and angered federal authorities.

One of the three, former Det. John Oliva, pleaded guilty in September to a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct for leaking confidential information to Newsday. He retired from the force and was sentenced to a conditional discharge. The second detective, Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), now a county legislator, also retired. Maldonado was transferred to the Sixth Precinct and then the arson bomb squad.

In June 2013, Burke put two other detectives back on the task force, Brian Keegan and Markus Rivera. They were never given federal security clearance, which would have granted them access to sensitive investigative files. Instead, they worked more on Nassau gang cases than they did on Suffolk with a focus on Bloods and Crips type gangs and not MS-13 cases, sources said.

In July 2014, federal prosecutors said, Burke ordered Keegan and Rivera to report back to him on who they saw meeting with federal agents or prosecutors at FBI offices in Melville or at the federal courthouse in Central Islip. At the time, Burke was the target of a federal probe.

Burke resigned on Oct. 27. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he beat Christopher Loeb, a Smithtown man who pleaded guilty to stealing Burke’s bag from his department vehicle in December 2012. Burke is also charged with trying to cover up the assault, prosecutors said.

Burke’s departure was immediately followed by an overhaul of the department’s top brass. Commissioner Edward Webber, who has been absent from recent news conferences and announcements, officially retires Jan. 1.

Maldonado, who had federal security clearance in the past, will serve along with Arson Bomb Squad Det. Mike Soto. Soto will have to obtain a security clearance, which could take up to six months.

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