Spota and McPartland ask judge to remain on bail during appeal, court documents say
Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and his ex-aide Christopher McPartland have called on the judge who sentenced them both to 5 years in prison on corruption charges to let them out while they appeal .
U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack handed down the sentences last month, ordering McPartland to surrender to prison officials by November 10 and Spota to surrender by December 10.
But lawyers for the defendants said in court documents Monday that bail should be granted because appeals from Spota and McPartland will present “substantive” legal issues which, if decided in favor of the defense, will result in a reversal. or a new trial.
Defense attorneys also said Spota, 80, of Mount Sinai, and McPartland, 55, of Northport, should remain out of jail while appealing their convictions and sentences because they do not pose a risk of leakage or danger to the community and because their calls are not for the purpose of delay.
“There is every reason to conclude that Mr. Spota’s appeal is a genuine and substantial challenge to several aspects of his belief which he believes sincerely warrant a new trial,” said a request from the team. Spota.
The dossier added: “All he asks is the possibility of resolving these issues, so that he knows for sure whether or not he has to serve what will surely be an unusually harsh and medically harsh prison sentence. risky. “
In 2019, a jury convicted Spota and McPartland, who had led Spota’s anti-corruption unit, for conspiracy, obstructing justice, tampering with witnesses and complicity in depriving prisoner Christopher Loeb of his civil rights.
By their verdict, jurors discovered that former prosecutors had orchestrated a cover-up of Loeb’s beating in 2012 at a Suffolk police station which James Burke, then Chief of Police in Suffolk, had executed along with three detectives .
The assault occurred hours after Loeb, then a heroin addict, stole a gym bag from Burke’s department vehicle that contained items such as his gun belt, ammunition, Viagra , sex toys and pornography.
Spota’s lawyers argued in the pending petition that one of the “mistakes” that “unfairly tipped the scales in favor of the government” during the trial was the “abundant, inflammatory and irrelevant evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Burke “. The defense asserts that the evidence called for sentencing Spota and McPartland on the basis of “guilt by association”.
Spota’s petition also states that the prosecution “has repeatedly elicited inflammatory testimony from police officers” that they feared retaliation from Burke and Spota if they cooperated with federal investigators. The defense record qualifies such testimony as “totally irrelevant”, saying it frequently included “unsubstantiated and inadmissible speculation.”
The prosecution also slandered former Spota deputy chief prosecutor Emily Constant, according to the Spota defense team. Their record indicates that although Constant provided “powerful testimony to justify Mr. Spota,” the prosecution then accused Constant in its closing argument of “being an accomplice” to the cover-up of Loeb’s assault.
McPartland’s lawyers joined Spota’s case arguments on behalf of their client, while also stating in a separate memo supporting McPartland’s attempt to remain free only to deny bail to the former anti-corruption chief. pending his appeal “would be a grave injustice”.
The court record added that the judge’s evidentiary rulings and the way the government used them created “significant problems on appeal which, if resolved in favor of the defendants, will likely result in a quashing and dismissal. new trial “.
The defense had claimed during the trial that there was no way Spota or McPartland would try to hide Burke’s role in Loeb’s beating because Burke never confessed to them before admitting his guilt in front of them. a federal court. Burke served most of a 46-month prison sentence – before his release to a halfway house – after pleading guilty in 2016 to conspiracy to obstruct justice and deprive Loeb of rights.
The defense had also attacked the credibility of the government’s lead witness, retired Police Lieutenant James Hickey, describing him as a mentally unstable drunkard and serial flirtist who had previously committed perjury.
But the prosecution told jurors that Spota was the “CEO” of the plot, while McPartland was the “chief operating officer” of the project because they were breaking the law they were supposed to uphold.
Spota’s lead lawyer Alan Vinegrad did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. McPartland’s senior attorney, Larry Krantz, declined to comment.
A spokesperson for the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office also declined to comment on the defense documents on Tuesday. Court records show the judge gave prosecutors until Sept. 20 to respond before delivering a ruling later.