Former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota and a former senior aide are due in court on Wednesday as lawyers in their bribery case argue over interpretation of federal sentencing guidelines before a judge announced the penalties for the accused in August.
In 2019, a jury convicted Spota and Christopher McPartland, who had led the district attorney’s anti-corruption unit, for conspiring, obstructing justice, tampering with witnesses and complicity in depriving a prisoner of civil rights.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is seeking eight-year prison sentences for Spota, 79, of Mount Sinai, and McPartland, 55, of Northport, after their convictions for trying to cover up the beating of the police chief in Suffolk, James Burke, of a handcuffed prisoner.
Defense attorneys have asked U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack to sentence their clients to house arrest and community service.
Probation officers recommended 57 to 71 months in jail for Spota and 46 to 57 months for McPartland.
Azrack will announce his decision on August 10 during a conviction in federal court in Central Islip.
Federal prosecutors have argued in court documents that the defendants, who have not accepted responsibility for their actions, deserve more time in prison than the sentencing guidelines recommend because of the “need for deterrence. And the “seriousness” of their conduct.
“A significant jail term will send the right message to the public that they can trust their criminal justice system – that the system is not broken – and that crooked cops cannot and will not be protected by power-hungry prosecutors, ”part of the government’s sentencing memo reads.
The April court record also detailed why prosecutors said Spota and McPartland should get tougher sentences, including their “substantial interference with the administration of justice” and because their crimes were “of scope, planning or preparation “and involved an abuse of” positions of trust “. . “
Federal prosecutors also drew a comparison to Burke’s 2016 conviction to 46 months in prison after a guilty plea, saying he was not a prosecutor and that the defendants’ motivation was “even worse” than his. .
While Burke orchestrated the cover-up to evade prosecution and preserve his noble work, the crimes of Spota and McPartland “were designed to maintain a power structure they had worked hard, for years, to create” and have was committed “because they genuinely believed they were above the law,” federal prosecutors said.
But Spota’s defense attorneys argued in a sentencing memo that probation officers’ recommendations should have been 21 to 27 months if the guidelines had been calculated correctly.
They also dubbed Spota “a broken man” who is “withered by… constant public humiliation” and said his age, declining health and record of public service warranted a sentence without prison.
Lawyers for Spota and McPartland opposed any improvement for “substantial interference with the administration of justice”, for an offense “of wide scope” or for any of the defendants being implicated as “organizer or leader ‘in the plot.
Spota’s lawyers added that there was “an absence of credible evidence that Tom organized or directed the conspiracy”, and his former position as Suffolk District Attorney “alone does not provide a suitable basis” for this. latest improvement.
“Whatever ‘the nature and scope’ of the plot, Tom’s alleged involvement was minimal,” they added.
McPartland’s lawyers also compared him to Burke while pleading for a non-jail sentence, saying McPartland’s guilt was “much lower” and he deserved a much smaller sentence.
“This whole tragic episode, accepting the government’s view of the evidence, was at worst the result of Chris’s misguided and at times blind loyalty to Burke – a larger than life figure who had a special gift for persuading others. to protect him, ”his lawyers also wrote in a sentencing memo.
McPartland “has lost almost everything,” including his reputation, his savings and his law degree, his lawyers also said in pleading for a sentence without prison.