NEW YORK – A former police chief of Suffolk County, Long Island has plead guilty to charges of violating a suspect’s civil rights and obstructing a federal civil rights investigation.
James Burke, 51, was accused of beating a heroin addict who had been arrested after stealing a duffel bag from the chief’s department-issued SUV parked in front of Burke’s home.
The charges also allege Burke enlisted nearly a dozen officers and detectives in the obstruction of justice by covering up the alleged crime.
He could serve up to 51 months prison. A sentencing date has not been set.
In December 2015, the former chief of one of the country’s largest local law enforcement agencies was arrested by federal agents at his Long Island home.
US Attorney Robert Capers said Burke influenced officers in his department to lie about what happened inside a police station.
Burke initially was investigated by the FBI in 2013 on suspicion that he may have abused a man suspected of stealing a gun belt, ammunition and handcuffs from his department issued vehicle.
Christopher Loeb of Smithtown was arrested after the break-in and later pleaded guilty to a weapons charge.
Loeb claims he was assaulted initially at his home by officers and subsequently at the precinct, where he was beaten by Burke and other officers.