Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Wednesday, October 4, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Long Island Police Chief Cops to Beating Suspect

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (NY) - A former Long Island police chief pleaded guilty Friday to beating up the man suspected of breaking into the chief's car, stealing a duffel bag full of porn and bullets.

James Burke, 51, had been the police chief of Long Island's Suffolk County in December 2012 when someone broke into his cruiser and liberated a duffel bag full of pornography, the officer's gun belt, magazines of ammunition, a box of cigars, a humidor, toiletries and clothing.

Prosecutors said Burke got a hold of the suspect, Christopher Loeb, cuffed him to an eyebolt on the floor, then punched and kicked him until he confessed.

Copping guilty Friday to civil-rights violations and conspiracy to obstruct justice, Burke admitted that he ordered his detectives in the Yaphank, N.Y., office to conceal the assault.

One detective even lied in an October 2013 pretrial hearing that the assault never occurred.

Burke resigned just a few months before his December 2015 arrest at his home in the Long Island hamlet of St. James, and has remained in custody since.

After rejecting a plea deal last month that reportedly involved a five-year sentence, the former policeman pleaded guilty Friday before U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler.

"The defendant violated his oath and responsibilities as a law enforcement officer by extracting personal vengeance, assaulting a handcuffed suspect, and abusing his authority as the highest ranking uniformed member of the Suffolk County Police Department," U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said in a statement.

The FBI also took a swipe at the troubled top cop.

"An honest government, trusted by people, is imperative to protect our freedoms," FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez said in a statement.

"In his guilty plea today, Burke has taken responsibility for his illegal conduct," Rodriguez added. "This begins the restoration of the public's trust in the Suffolk County Police Department's ability to protect their constitutional freedoms."

According to the indictment, Loeb was arrested Dec. 14, 2012, at his mother's house in Smithtown, N.Y., for a slew of probation violations.

During his arrest, officers found a "large cache of merchandise" stolen from at least a dozen vehicles, including Burke's cruiser.

After receiving permission to enter Loeb's home and retrieve his things, Burke returned to the town's 4th precinct while Loeb was being interrogated.

That's when he was smacked Loeb around to illicit a bogus confession, prosecutors said.

Burke's guilty plea came in the first day at the helm of the U.S. Attorney's Office for Capers.The prosecutor's predecessor, Kelly Currie, announced Thursday that he was returning to private practice, after less than a year in the seat opened up by Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

Categories / Uncategorized

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.