RIVERHEAD - More calls were made Tuesday for Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota and County Executive Steven Bellone to step down following the federal conviction of former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke.
Three Republican Suffolk legislators stood together, saying both Spota and Bellone should be held accountable for promoting Burke to police chief, despite a 1995 internal affairs report that found Burke had his department weapons stolen and had sex with prostitutes. Bellone has said Spota vouched for Burke, and that's why he hired Burke without checking his record. Among the lawmakers was Legislator Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst).
"Speaking to people in law enforcement, people in the legal community, they don't feel that people can get a fair shake in Suffolk County while we still have the district attorney," McCaffrey said. "I've called for him to resign, he's had a good run in public service, but I think that has been clouded now at this time, I think it's time for Tom Spota to step down. You have Steve Bellone finger-pointing what he knew and what he didn't know, and what he was told and at the end of the day it was his job to believe that whoever his chief of police was going to be, that was not done. I have to believe that Steve Bellone has to consider stepping down as well."
"Whatever integrity Suffolk County has left is evaporating in a murky haze of finger-pointing and deceit," added Legislator Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore).
Bellone on Tuesday said he made a mistake.
"I clearly did make a mistake," Bellone said. "I made a mistake in terms of who I trusted and whose judgement I trusted."
Spota spoke with News 12 last week, saying that he never directly vouched for Burke to Bellone and never looked at Burke's internal affairs file. A spokesperson for Spota said, "This predictably partisan press conference calling for the resignation of the duly elected district attorney is nothing but a political challenge to the effective leadership of Thomas Spota, who has spent the last 14 years putting criminals in jail."
McCaffrey said Tuesday that he will be introducing a bill to create an independent office to investigate all allegations of corruption.
On Monday, Suffolk Sheriff Vincent DeMarco also called for Spota's resignation.