Ex-Suffolk officer: Burke ordered officers to spy on Executive Bellone
There were some bombshells dropped Thursday in the obstruction of justice trial of former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide Christopher McPartland, including an allegation that former chief James Burke ordered officers to spy on Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
Most of Thursday’s testimony centered on John Oliva – a Suffolk police officer under Burke who was transferred out of an elite gang unit and wiretapped when he was suspected of leaking information to the media. In what has been called an "unusual move," he was then criminally prosecuted by Spota and McPartland.
“It's basically going to show how close Tom Spota and McPartland were to Jimmy Burke,” said Oliva.
On Wednesday, former officer Kenneth Bombace, who admitted to assaulting suspect Christopher Loeb with Burke, testified he covered it up because Suffolk police officers feared a fate similar to Oliva's if they ever crossed Burke.
"That's basically how they put fear in [officers]. They said, 'If you guys don't toe the line and keep lying, we are going to 'Oliva' you," said Oliva. "You saw what we did to him, this is what we are going to do to you."
Late in the afternoon, the jury also heard from Anthony Leto, another former Suffolk police officer who admitted to assaulting suspect Christopher Loeb and covering it up with then-police chief James Burke.
Leto told jurors that Burke had a number of "unorthodox assignments" for him and other officers in the criminal intelligence unit, including tailing the stepson of Burke's girlfriend to see if he broke any laws. He said that one of those assignments was keeping tabs on newly elected Steve Bellone. Leto testified that the “spying” was under the guise of providing him security.
Sources say Bellone didn't want a security detail, but Burke told him there was a threat against him – so he had one for a few months in 2012.
Bellone responded in a statement: “I am not surprised to learn of these additional corrupt activities as this is why I fired Jim Burke and called on Tom Spota to resign for running a criminal enterprise. I have been fighting this corruption in Suffolk County long before Spota was prosecuted and the media began reporting on it. I’m gratified that the truth is finally coming out.”