Crime and Courts

Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Former Suffolk County Police Chief Expected to Be Charged in Federal Civil Rights Probe: Sources

Federal charges are expected to be filed as early as Wednesday against former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke, who resigned in October as a probe reopened into the arrest of a man who broke into his department-issued SUV in 2012, NBC 4 New York has learned.

Sources familiar with the case tell NBC 4 New York Burke, once the leading uniformed officer in Suffolk County, is expected to face civil rights charges in connection with the probe into the Dec. 2012 arrest of Christopher Loeb.

Several other Suffolk County police officials are also facing federal scrutiny. 

Loeb, now 28, alleged he was beaten by multiple police officers, including Burke, while detained for hours in a stationhouse following his arrest for breaking into Burke's car, which had been parked outside the officer's home. He later pleaded guilty to stealing a duffel bag containing Burke's gun belt and ammunition, among other items.

Loeb is suing both Burke and the county, claiming his civil rights were violated during the arrest. According to Newsday, Loeb alleges in the complaint he was questioned for 10 hours and attacked and threatened by Burke and other officers.

The FBI initially opened an investigation in 2013 into Burke.

An attorney for Burke said last year the investigation had been closed. It wasn't clear what prompted the case to be reopened.

“We are confident that with the investigation reopened that our client’s claims will be properly investigated and justice will be served,” Loeb's attorney, Amy Marion, told NBC 4 New York at the time.

Loeb is out of prison after serving time on concurrent sentences of criminal possession of a weapon and violation of probation.

Joseph Conway, an attorney representing Burke, said he has not been contacted about any charges. In the past, a spokesman for the department has said Burke denies any wrongdoing.

Spokespeople for the U.S. Attorney and the FBI declined comment.

Burke's resignation led to shakeup in the police department, with some high-ranking officials announcing their retirements. Police Commissioner Edward Webber has announced his retirement effective Jan. 23, and Chief of Detectives William Madigan also announced he'll be retiring. 

-Joe Valiquette and Greg Cergol contributed to this report

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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