Christopher Loeb shows up at ex-DA Spota jury selection in cover-up trial
The long-awaited trial of Suffolk County's former top prosecutor began Tuesday, and a familiar face was on hand to watch.
Jury selection began in the trial of Thomas Spota and his former aide Christopher McPartland. Both are accused of witness tampering and obstruction.
Prosecutors say Spota and McPartland tried to cover up the beating of Christopher Loeb by then-Police Chief James Burke. Loeb watched the proceedings inside the Central Islip courtroom and took notes. He spoke with reporters upon leaving during a lunchbreak.
"I'm here to stand up for the people just like me who have been wronged," he said.
The juror questionnaire asked "who's who" in Suffolk politics and law enforcement. Hundreds of potential jurors were asked if they have any connection to former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke, former Suffolk Executive Steve Levy, current County Executive Steve Bellone and Rep. Kathleen Rice, the former Nassau District Attorney.
The judge also told potential jurors that they will hear testimony from individuals with alcohol and substance abuse issues and asked whether that would affect their ability to be fair and impartial.
Loeb received a $1.5 million settlement from Suffolk County last year as a result of the Burke incident. He was arrested in April for allegedly being high on multiple drugs and driving more than 100 mph on the Long Island Expressway.
"For the record, I'm sober. I'm not on drugs. I'm not on any dope. So, if I wind up dead – I'm not suicidal and I'm not on drugs," he said.
Loeb and Burke are not expected to testify in this case. Sources say several former Suffolk police officers who pleaded guilty in secret proceedings for their roles in the alleged coverup are expected to take the stand.
The entire trial is expected to last about four weeks.