Prosecution focuses on ex-lieutenant’s testimony in Spota trial closing arguments
The prosecution started its closing arguments in the obstruction trial of former Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota and his top investigator Christopher McPartland.
Prosecutor Lara Gatz has spent hours standing in front of a jury trying to summarize her case. The testimony has lasted for weeks so far. Both men are accused of helping cover up the beating of suspect Christopher Loeb by then-Suffolk Police Chief James Burke in 2012.
Gatz focused on the government’s star witness, James Hickey - a lieutenant in the Suffolk County Police Department at the time of Loeb’s beating.
News 12 has reported that Hickey testified he had direct conversations and meetings with Spota and Christopher McPartland about the alleged cover-up. Hickey told the court, "I assumed Spota knew from Burke... because Spota knew. We all knew Burke did it. We were covering it up."
Hickey testified that one meeting took place at Spota’s office.
"Look at the phone traffic,” Gatz told the jury. “They have no legal business in this matter anymore and remember, James Burke doesn't even work with Tom Spota or Christopher McPartland anymore.”
Hickey had also testified that when Burke knew he was going to be arrested, he told him he was "willing to do three years, playing cards with mobsters."
Gatz also accused Emily Constant, one of the government's own witnesses, of lying on the stand during the trial because her testimony contradicted Hickey's. Constant was the second in command in Spota's office and testified she doesn't want to see Spota or McPartland convicted.
When asked if she lied on the stand, she told News 12, “Absolutely not.”
“I would never do that, and I haven't lied in my 38-year career, and I certainly wouldn't pick federal court to start doing it,” said Constant.
The defense had its chance at closing arguments in the afternoon. McPartland's attorney Larry Krantz slammed the prosecution for accusing Constant of perjury. Krantz also tried to discredit Hickey to jurors, saying of McPartland, “The evidence shows that he has been falsely accused by one man, Jim Hickey, who is a combination of desperate and not well."
News 12 reported that Hickey was hospitalized twice – once for excessive drinking and another time for hallucinating. He says the hospitalizations were brought on by the "weight of the conspiracy.”