While there may be a major decision ahead for Governor Andrew Cuomo in the developing Suffolk County government mess, today he said that he has not yet “reviewed” it or “gone through it in any depth.”
Last week Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone called for the resignation of Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota, alleging that, among other misdeeds, Spota “allow[ed] violent criminals to go unpunished in order to protect your friends” and describing the District Attorney’s office as a “criminal organization.”
Those are extraordinarily powerful accusations that, if true, warrant removal from office and criminal prosecution. Cuomo figures in to this episode because under Article XIII of the state Constitution he holds the power to remove the District Attorney. Cuomo is not responsible for criminally investigating Spota, but he may face a decision to act on removal of Spota.
Spota, in office since 2001, has a growing list of problems. Former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke, a longtime Spota deputy and hired as county police chief on Spota’s recommendation, recently pled guilty to beating a suspect in custody and then covering up the episode. The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District is reported to be investigating both Spota’s office and a top deputy of Spota’s on “a wide array of allegations.”
Adding to the twists in this story: Spota and Bellone are both Democrats, and Bellone has a strong relationship with Cuomo. Stay tuned.
Here’s Cuomo’s response today: