SMITHTOWN - Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota engaged in a war of words Thursday after Bellone called for the DA's resignation.
Early in the day, Bellone made a speech about corruption in Suffolk County and slammed Spota, calling him the head of a "criminal enterprise."
"This must end," Bellone said. "This culture of corruption which perverts this government."
As News 12 has previously reported, Spota has been criticized for vouching for former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke, who recently pleaded guilty to federal charges of assaulting a suspect and conspiring to cover it up.
A Newsday report alleges Spota declined to prosecute Robert Macedonio, a politically connected defense attorney, after a comprehensive investigation and wiretap probe provided enough evidence to do so.
"The culture of corruption that has clearly existed now in this county and in law enforcement for decades has continued unabated and has only worsened," Bellone said. "For refusing to cooperate and work with federal law enforcement and prosecute crime in this county, for refusing and blocking federal law enforcement from working on the Gilgo Beach serial murder case, for allowing a violent criminal to go free to protest political friends, for lying about Jim Burke and conspiring to conceal his past, Tom Spota, you must resign from this office."
Bellone tried to personally hand-deliver a letter to Spota demanding he resign, but the DA did not come out of his office. Moments later, Spota held his own news conference.
In Spota's news conference, he called Bellone's attacks "a personal vendetta" and "absolutely baseless." He also denied Bellone's claim that he blocked the FBI from participating in the Gilgo Beach serial killer investigation.
Spota's office released a statement defending its actions in the Gilgo investigation.
The FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit aided investigators in late 2010 and early 2011, according to the statement. The unit returned on June 7, 2012 to deliver an internal report related to the case.
A Suffolk County police report signed by two Suffolk detectives in 2012 says the FBI's behavioral analysis team agreed to conduct a review of 11 of the cases connected to Gilgo, but, "The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office was notified of this, and at that time, objected to this analysis behing conducted."
It was that third visit, in December 2012, that was "deemed duplicative of the work already completed," according to the DA's office.
Suffolk's new police commissioner, Tim Sini, has since invited the FBI back into the investigation.
“The new leadership team deemed it important to have the full involvement of the FBI, and they became fully involved in December 2015," Sini said. "A full profile analysis is being worked on right now, among other assistance from the FBI”.
The DA also claimed Bellone asked him not to investigate individuals he was close to.
"I've never said it before, but I will say it now, the county executive has made, and did make in the past, multiple personal pleas to me in the presence of other prosecutors, not to investigate or prosecute people that he was close to," Spota claimed.
Bellone said that if Spota refuses to step down, he will ask Gov. Andrew Cuomo to use his authority to step in and remove Spota.
Spota said if the governor chooses to investigate, he and his team would be happy to talk to them.