By Dan Whitcomb
(Reuters) - A Long Island, New York, prosecutor and his chief of investigations were indicted on Wednesday on federal charges accusing them of trying to thwart a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into the beating of a handcuffed inmate by a police chief.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and Christopher McPartland, his chief of investigations, were each charged in the four-count indictment with conspiracy, witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
"While FBI agents were working to restore justice in a civil rights investigation, District Attorney Thomas Spota and Assistant District Attorney Christopher McPartland were conspiring to obstruct it," Bridget Rohde, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a written statement.
"The crimes they're charged with are rivaled only by the conduct they allegedly attempted to conceal," Rohde said.
Spota and McPartland were ordered held on $500,000 bond during a brief hearing in federal court in New York on Wednesday, according to federal prosecutors.
McPartland's criminal defense lawyer, Larry Krantz, told Reuters after the hearing, "Chris McPartland has always been an honest and dedicated public servant. He vehemently denies the charges and asserts his innocence. He looks forward to his day in court."
An attorney representing Spota could not be reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon. A spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The charges against Spota and McPartland stem from the December 2012 beating of Christopher Loeb after he was arrested on suspicion of breaking into vehicles, including Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke's squad car.Burke, who was accused of slapping and punching Loeb while he was handcuffed to a fixture in the police station and leading a cover up of the incident, pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2016 and was sentenced to 46 months in prison.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb)