A 2011 letter from Suffolk DA Tom Spota sharply disputed allegations against now federally convicted Suffolk Police Chief James Burke.
A war of words between Spota and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is escalating as the two have clashed over the background check on Burke before he was appointed police chief.
“This district attorney's office is quickly losing any credibility,” said Bellone, who maintains he went to Spota in 2011 after receiving an anonymous letter that accused Burke of being with prostitutes, losing his department gun and threatening subordinates.
“He told me there was nothing to it, he investigated everything, and that Burke had a clean bill of health,” said Bellone.
The county executive then promoted Burke to chief of department. But in an exclusive one-on-one interview on Wednesday, Spota told News 12 Long Island that he never vouched for Burke directly to Bellone.
“I did not speak to Bellone at all about it,” said Spota.
Spota did say that he vouched for Burke in writing in 2011 to Kevin Law, who was heading up the search for a new Suffolk police commissioner. On Wednesday, Spota said he did not remember details of that letter. News 12 Long Island has since obtained that letter, in which Spota said, "The allegation that Mr. Burke was ‘recently caught up in a prostitution sting in NYC’ is a baseless rumor."
The letter also said that "not one shred of evidence has ever been brought forth to support any of this trash."
“What the letter demonstrates is, exactly what he said to me, is exactly what he put in writing,” said Bellone. When asked if Spota was lying, the Suffolk executive said he’d leave that characterization to others but said that he himself had been consistent in everything he’d said.
“If I and the people of this county cannot trust the word of the district attorney, we have a real problem from a law enforcement perspective,” Bellone added.
Late this afternoon, Spota issued a statement through a spokesman that said, “I publicly acknowledged my mistake but County Executive Bellone is incapable of admitting he made a mistake and he continues to cast blame anywhere he can. It's that simple."
A spokesman says that public acknowledgment of the DA's mistake came two days ago when News 12 Long Island asked Spota if he regretted supporting Burke.