Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Former police chief James Burke sentenced to 46 months in prison

A former police chief who orchestrated a department cover-up after beating a handcuffed heroin addict for stealing sex toys and pornography from his SUV has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

Former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke apologized to his victim, the judge, his family and residents of his Long Island community before being sentenced to 46 months on Wednesday by a federal judge. Prosecutors said 'high-ranking officials' from other county agencies helped Burke silence potential whistleblowers after he pummeled Christopher Loeb, a heroin addict who had taken his gun belt, ammunition, a box of cigars and a bag containing sex toys and pornography, in 2012.
U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Wexler said Burke's crimes went beyond the beating and affected the entire 2,000-member police department. 'I feel Mr. Burke acted as a dictator,' the judge said as the former chief sat stoically. 'He also did bad if you were not on his side. That's corruption.'

Officers who were present for the beating or heard Burke brag about it at a Christmas party stayed quiet for years, prosecutors said. One lied in court and said the attack had not happened. 'In terms of obstructing justice, it is hard to imagine a more serious example of this conduct than the highest-ranking uniform member of the police department assaulting a suspect and then orchestrating a cover-up'
The ex-police chief pleaded guilty last winter in the beating and cover-up. He asked for no prison time because he says his mother is dying of cancer. Co-conspirators were not identified, but prosecutors said their investigation is ongoing.

Prosecutors called Burke's time as chief a 'reign of terror' - and said he kept liquor in his office and regularly drove drunk. He had subordinates conduct surveillance on his girlfriends. In 2013, he had a contractor illegally put a GPS device on a high-ranking civilian police official he disliked, hoping to gather information that he could use for blackmail.

At least 11 current or former police officers and detectives who had previously remained silent about the beating testified before the grand jury that indicted Burke.
Burke 'went out of control' after the handcuffed Loeb called him a 'pervert' — punching, screaming, cursing and threatening to kill him with a heroin overdose.