Thomas Spota

Last updated
Thomas J. Spota III
TJS photo.jpg
District Attorney of Suffolk County
In office
January 1, 2002 November 10, 2017
Preceded byJames M. Catterson, Jr.
Succeeded byTim Sini
Constituency Suffolk County, New York
Personal details
Political party Democratic
Education Fairfield University (B.A.)
St. John's University (J.D.)
Website Suffolk County District Attorney's Office

Thomas J. Spota III (born 1941, New York) is known as the District Attorney of Suffolk County, New York, serving from 2002 to late 2017. During this period, Spota was inducted into the Long Island Press Power List Hall of Fame in 2009, having been named to the Power List at least five times. [1]

Suffolk County, New York County in the United States

Suffolk County is a predominantly suburban county on Long Island and the easternmost county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the county's population was 1,493,350, estimated to have decreased slightly to 1,492,953 in 2017, making it the fourth-most populous county in New York. Its county seat is Riverhead, though most county offices are in Hauppauge. The county was named after the county of Suffolk in England, from where its earliest European settlers came.

The Long Island Press is a free monthly news and lifestyle periodical serving Long Island.


Spota resigned November 10, 2017, after he was indicted on federal charges of obstruction of justice in the investigation of Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke. [2] [3] [4]

Early life and education

Spota was born in 1941 and grew up in New Hyde Park, New York, on Long Island. He graduated from Chaminade High School, a private Catholic school in Mineola, New York. He earned degrees at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut and St. John's University School of Law in Jamaica, Queens, New York. [5]

New Hyde Park, New York Village in New York, United States

New Hyde Park is a village in Nassau County, Long Island, New York, United States, which is split between the towns of Hempstead and North Hempstead.

Chaminade High School

Chaminade High School is a Roman Catholic college preparatory high school for boys in Mineola, New York, United States.

Mineola, New York Village in New York, United States

Mineola is a village in Nassau County, Long Island, New York, United States. The population was 18,799 at the 2010 census. The name is derived from an Algonquin word meaning a "pleasant village".

Law career

After passing the bar, Spota worked as an assistant prosecutor under Suffolk County District Attorney Patrick Henry, during the 1970s and early 1980s. He entered private law practice in Suffolk, representing clients including the Suffolk Detectives Association and other law enforcement unions. [6]


He lives in Mount Sinai, New York with his wife. They have three grown children.

Mount Sinai, New York Hamlet and census-designated place in New York, United States

Mount Sinai is a hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) located within the Town of Brookhaven in Suffolk County, New York, United States. The population was 12,118 at the 2010 census. The hamlet is located on the North Shore of Long Island, and is served by the Mount Sinai School District and the Mount Sinai Fire Department, founded on October 25, 1930. The Mount Sinai Fire District covers approximately 5.5 square miles including the Mount Sinai Harbor and parts of the Long Island Sound. Mount Sinai's ZIP code is 11766.

District Attorney of Suffolk County

In 2001 Republican-turned-Democrat Spota ran for District Attorney, and defeated three-time incumbent James M. Catterson Jr in November 2001, taking 58% of the vote. That year in Nassau County, Democrats also were victorious in many positions. [7] He was reelected in 2005, [8] and again in 2009 without any major-party opposition. [9]

Spota has been active in the fight against the distribution of child pornography over the Internet. In 2003, Spota indicted twelve Suffolk residents who used KaZaA, a file-sharing program to spread child pornography. [10] Spota was called to testify before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary on September 9, 2003 at a hearing concerning "Pornography, Technology, and Process: Problems and Solutions on Peer-to-Peer Networks." Spota recommended a new federal task force and said that legislation was needed to "attack the owners and the distributors of these programs, who are reaping enormous profits." [11]

From December 2010, his office oversaw the investigation of numerous homicides in Suffolk County, believed to have been perpetrated by a single unidentified person, known as the Long Island serial killer, or LISK. The remains of at least ten persons have been found on South Shore beaches, and are believed to be related. The open homicide investigation is still underway.

Among the successful cases prosecuted by his office was the conviction in May 2017 of John Bittrolff, a Manorville carpenter charged with the homicides of prostitutes Rita Tangredi and Colleen McNamee, whose bodies were found on area South Shore beaches in 1993 and 1994, respectively. [12]


In May 2013 the FBI and the US Attorney's Office opened an investigation into alleged actions by James Burke, Chief of the Suffolk County Police Department: the alleged assault of a suspect in police custody, a subsequent cover-up, and coercion of witnesses. The former chief pleaded guilty to reduced charges in February 2016. [13]

The federal inquiry subsequently expanded beyond Burke to investigate a broader pattern of corruption in both the police department and the office of the Suffolk County district attorney, Thomas J. Spota. [13] In October 2017, Spota and an aide were indicted on charges of obstructing the investigation of James Burke for police brutality. [14] [15] Spota resigned from office on November 10, 2017.

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  1. Power List 2009 Hall of Fame
  2. Keshner, Andrew. "Suffolk County DA Thomas Spota resigning Friday after allegedly covering up police chief beating". New York Daily News. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  3. Campbell, Danielle. "Spota, under indictment, finishes DA career under cloud of cover-up charges". News 12 Long Island. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  4. Swenson, Kyle. "A scandal sent a Long Island police chief to prison. Now it's brought down the D.A., too". Washington Post. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  5. Spotlight on DA Thomas Spota
  6. {{Cite news|url= D.A. in Suffolk and Westchester|date=2001-11-02|work=The New York Times|access-date=2017-11-01|language=en-US|issn=0362-4331
  7. THE 2001 ELECTIONS: NASSAU COUNTY; Suozzi Wins Easily in Rebuke of Nassau's G.O.P. Machine
  8. Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota sworn in, Amityville Record
  9. Suffolk County Board of Elections: 2009 Election Official Results
  10. Suffolk Indicts 12 in Child Porn Archived 2006-08-23 at the Wayback Machine
  11. Testimony of Mr. Thomas Spota, Suffolk County District Attorney, September 9, 2003
  12. Frank Eltman, AP. "Prosecutor: Convicted killer may be tied to more NY slayings". Newser. Archived from the original on 2017-09-13. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  13. 1 2 Dollinger, Arielle; Santora, Marc (2016-02-26). "James Burke, Ex-Suffolk County Police Chief, Pleads Guilty". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  14. "Suffolk County DA Thomas Spota Indicted In 2012 Police Brutality Cover-up". NBC. New York. 2017-10-25. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  15. "DA in New York is accused of obstructing probe into beating of suspect by former police chief". ABA Journal. Debra Cassens Weiss. Retrieved 2017-11-01.CS1 maint: others (link)