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The Spota saga continues
Thomas Spota, who announced his resignation Thursday as Suffolk County district attorney, has been paying employees bonuses from his office’s stash of assets seized in criminal cases.
Newsday reported earlier this month that the bonuses total almost $2.7 million since 2012. It has nothing to do with his indictment on obstruction of justice to protect former Police Chief of Department James Burke, but it’s very worrisome and a good look into how that office has been blind to ethical conflicts.
The DA’s office said the bonuses were paid to improve the morale of assistant district attorneys and get them to stay on the job, but the biggest bonuses since 2016 actually went to:
- Spota’s top corruption prosecutor, Christopher McPartland, indicted along with Spota on Wednesday on four federal charges, with $37,500.
- Chief deputy Emily Constant, $37,500.
- Bureau chief John Scott Prudenti, under fire for renting out his partyboat to defense attorneys with cases pending before the office, $27,500.
Forfeiture funds can’t be used for salaries, but it’s unclear whether bonuses count. Either way, it’s a problem for law enforcement officials to fund their own pay through seizing assets of suspects.
The Suffolk County DA’s office ranked third in the state in 2016 on state forfeiture money seized with $4.1 million, trailing only Manhattan and Nassau. On federal forfeitures, the Suffolk DA’s office did even better, leading with $1.7 million seized.
Martins had a Suozzi moment
Nassau County executive candidate Jack Martins went with a very tongue-in-cheek version of the adage that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery during his speech Thursday morning to the Long Island Association executive breakfast, which also hosted rival Laura Curran. Martins, the GOP candidate, ended his speech by saying, “I can do it because I’ve done it.”
That line is, famously, the mantra of Thomas Suozzi, who defeated Martins in the 3rd Congressional District race in November and for eight years held the Nassau job Martins is now seeking. Suozzi supports Curran, a Democrat.
Said Suozzi in a 2004 interview for a New York magazine piece touting his national political future, “When I was going from mayor to county executive, my slogan was, ‘I can do it because I’ve done it.’ ”
In Suozzi’s next attempt at a promotion, the New York gubernatorial race, the phrase did not serve him as well, nor did it turn the trick in county executive races in 2000 and 2013. Now Suozzi’s back on top and Martins, who credited a former county elected official with the line but did not mention Suozzi by name, is tipping his cap.