Judge orders former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke held without bail

The U.S. Attorney says Burke deserves the 'high end' or maximum sentence for beating a suspect.

The U.S. Attorney says Burke deserves the 'high end' or maximum sentence for beating a suspect. (12/11/15)

WOODBURY - A judge called former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke a danger to the community when he ordered Burke be held without bail pending a trial.

Prosecutors said today that the duffle bag that sparked Burke’s alleged assault on Christopher Loeb contained sex toys and a pornographic DVD. He has been under federal investigation after allegedly assaulting the Smithtown man, who was arrested for stealing Burke's bag from his police SUV.

Burke, 51, was arrested Wednesday and charged in a two-count federal indictment stemming from the alleged 2012 assault. He is facing deprivation of civil rights and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice charges. 

According to prosecutors, Burke drove to Loeb's house after he was identified as the suspect to retrieve his bag. He then allegedly "punched and kicked Loeb in the head and body" after Loeb was taken to a nearby precinct. Prosecutors said Burke, "together with other members" of the Suffolk County Police Department, tried to cover up the assault.

Defense attorney Joseph Conway said that Burke never threatened Loeb and that the charges won't stand up in court.

“The government put together a lot of hearsay evidence from a lot of different people,” said Conway.

When the judge ordered no bail, he told the court, "I find the corruption of an entire department by this defendant is shocking," and said there’s "no way he can be supervised that he's not a danger to the community." That came after the prosecution told the judge that Burke allegedly threatened to give Loeb a "hot shot," or a fatal dose of heroin.

Prosecutors also said Burke wielded his power over other Suffolk officers by allegedly getting out of a DWI following a drunken car crash and ordering a GPS be secretly installed on the car of a county worker he didn't like. They also accuse him of asking other officers to spy for him at a retirement party and asking officers to change their story and cover up his alleged assault of Loeb.

News 12 has learned the government has at least 11 witnesses against Burke, many of whom are Suffolk police officers.

Burke could face up to five years in prison if convicted. His next date in court is Jan. 6.


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