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Sunday, May 26, 2024 | Back issues
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Prison for Ex-Police Chief Who Beat a Suspect

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CN) — A former Long Island police chief who beat up the man he suspected of robbing pornography from his car received a four-year sentence to federal prison Wednesday.

James Burke had been the police chief of Suffolk County, New York, in December 2012 when someone broke into his official department vehicle and stole a duffel bag from it.

As reported by Newsday, the suspect hauled in for the robbery by police struck a nerve when he called Burke a "pervert."

Christopher Loeb, a young heroin addict who eventually pleaded guilty to theft of the duffel bag, apparently mistook the pornographic DVDs he found among the sex toys for child pornography.

According to Burke's 2015 indictment, fellow officers had to restrain the chief as he cuffed Loeb to an eyebolt on the floor the interrogation room, then punched and kicked him.

Trying to force a confession, Burke allegedly threatened Loeb with a fatal dose of heroin called a "hot shot."

Burke pleaded guilty in February 2016 to civil-rights violations and conspiracy to obstruct justice, admitting that he ordered his detectives in the Yaphank, N.Y., office to conceal the assault.

Weeks before the plea, Burke turned down a deal that would have put him away for roughly five years in prison.

Apparently holding out paid off.

U.S. District Judge Leonard Wexler sentenced 52-year-old Burke on Wednesday to just under four years.

The 46-month sentence is nearly as much as what Burke would have received under a previous plea deal he rebuffed earlier during his trial

Burke, a Republican, resigned from as chief of police in October 2015, two months before his arrest.

After one officer lied during a 2013 pretrial hearing in Loeb's case — saying the beating never occurred — nearly a dozen police officers wound up cooperating with federal investigators.

During the trial, prosecutors alleged that Burke had used his police officers to keep an eye on his girlfriend, and Judge Wexler had likened Burke to a dictator.

Wexler also sealed documents detailing Burke's arrest.

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