Longtime Suffolk DA Resigns After Federal Indictment

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Thomas Spota, Suffolk County District Attorney, is stepping down after federal prosecutors charged him yesterday with obstruction of justice and witness tampering during the federal investigation of an assault by the former county policy chief.

Burke pled guilty a year ago to accusations that he'd tortured a prisoner in his custody.

Spota and McPartland pleaded not guilty at their arraignments Wednesday on charges they conspired to protect Burke.

Newsday reports that Spota, who announced earlier this year he would not be seeking re-election, and a top aide have been charged with witness tampering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Spota and the chief of his anti-corruption bureau, Christopher McPartland, are accused of obstructing an FBI investigation that led to the conviction of former county Police Chief James Burke. "He looks forward to vindicating himself in court", Vinegrad said.

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A judge set bail at $500,000 each, and both are expected to be released. He wouldn't comment as he left the courtroom.

As a child, Burke was the key witness in a murder trial of a young boy in a case prosecuted by Spota, who was then an assistant district attorney.

A district attorney in eastern Long Island has been indicted on charges that he obstructed a federal civil rights investigation into the beating of a handcuffed prisoner by a police chief. Federal prosecutors accused both officials of using threats and intimidation to pressure witnesses to provide false information to federal agents during their investigation of James Burke, the former county police chief who pleaded guilty to brutally beating a man who burglarized the chief's auto in 2012.

The indictments come nine weeks before Spota, 76, had planned to retire from his position as district attorney.

Spota, a Democrat, became DA in 2001.

A spokesman for the district attorney's office had no comment.

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