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Former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke could receive more than four years in prison for beating and threatening to kill a man
Burke admitted to conspiracy to obstruct justice by covering up the beating, which took place in a Smithtown interrogation room
He requests no prison time because he has been taking care of his mother, who is being treated for lung cancer
A former Long Island police chief who admitted beating and threatening to kill a man who stole sex toys and other items from his department-issued SUV wants to avoid prison so he can care for his cancer-stricken mother.
James Burke, the former chief of the Suffolk County Police Department, could receive more than four years in prison when he's sentenced Wednesday. He pleaded guilty last winter to violating the man's civil rights and then trying to cover it up.
In a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Wexler, Burke requests no prison time because he had been serving as his mother's primary caregiver. She has been treated for lung cancer and recently learned she had a recurrence of cancer in her lymph node, he told the judge.
"It would be unbearable for me to be in prison as her condition deteriorated and she passes from this earth, severely restricted in my ability to communicate," Burke wrote. "She does not deserve the consequences of dying while her eldest son, who has generally done good for most of his life, is in prison. I beseech you, Your Honor, to consider this situation in rendering your sentence."
The court filing Thursday by Burke's attorney also included more than a dozen letters by friends, family, former police officials and politicians vouching for his character.
Burke, who led one of the country's largest suburban police departments, admitted to conspiracy to obstruct justice by covering up the beating, which took place in a police station interrogation room in Smithtown.
In court documents, prosecutors said the former chief was exacting revenge on a man who broke into his SUV in 2012 and made off with a gun belt, handcuffs, ammunition, a box of cigars, a humidor and a canvas bag that contained, among other items, sex toys and video pornography.
Prosecutors wrote that the 51-year-old Burke "went out of control" after the handcuffed suspect called him a "pervert" during an interrogation — punching, screaming and cursing and threatening to kill the suspect with a heroin overdose.
At least 11 current or former police officers and detectives "who had remained silent about the beating for years" testified before the grand jury that indicted Burke.
The suspect in the SUV theft, Christopher Loeb, pleaded guilty to a weapons charge and was sentenced to three years in prison. He was released last summer. He has sued Burke and the police department, seeking damages.