Former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke was arrested this week for beating a man for breaking into his department-issued SUV in 2012 and stealing personal items, including pornography and sex toys.
Burke, who abruptly retired from the New York police agency in October 2015, was charged in federal court with assault and obstructing an ensuing civil rights investigation.
He pleaded not guilty and will be held at the federal jail in Brooklyn until he appears at his bail hearing Friday morning.
The beating occurred in a interrogation room at the Suffolk County Police Fourth Precinct station.
In December 2012, Christopher Loeb broke into several vehicles in Saint James, Long Island.
One of the vehicles Loeb broke into was Chief Burke’s. Loeb stole Burke’s duffell bag, gun belt, several magazines of ammunition, a box of cigars, a humidor, and a canvas bag that contained toiletries, sex toys, video pornography and clothing.
Police went to Loeb’s home on December 12, 2012 to arrest him for probation violations. It was during an authorized search of his home that they discovered the stolen property.
Burke was contacted and permitted to enter the Loeb residence to retrieve his stolen police and personal property. Upon the search, Loeb was arrested and taken to the Suffolk County Police Fourth Precinct for interrogation.
It was then that former Chief Burke entered the interrogation room and beat Loeb, while other officers and detectives watched. During the beating, Loeb called Burke a pervert for having pornography and sex toys.
In describing what the chief did to him, Loeb told investigators:
“He grabbed me by my cheeks, then he took his thumb and four fingers and squeezed my face [then] he punched me right above my hairline.”
Loab was handcuffed and chained to the floor. The chief punched and kicked Loab striking him on the head and body.
When the chief found out that a federal civil rights investigation was being launched into the matter, he convinced detectives to cover up the brutal assault. A unnamed detective even lied under oath concerning the assault during a state pretrial hearing at Loeb’s theft court date.
U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said:
“Shockingly, Burke had one of the detectives that was present on the precinct on the night of that assault testify falsely under oath in a pre-trial state court hearing, in which Loeb was charged with burglary, that Burke did not assault Loeb.”
Loeb is currently serving a three year prison sentence for his theft crimes; but that hasn’t stopped him from suing former Chief Burke and the Suffolk County Police Department for civil rights violations. The lawsuit is pending.
Loeb’s defense attorney Amy Marion said:
“This indictment is not only about Chris Loeb. This indictment is about covering up an investigation and lying about what happened and conspiring to lie about what happened.”
Diego Rodriguez, the assistant director in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York field office said “Burke took a shortcut on the path to justice.”