Ex-Suffolk Police Chief James Burke sentenced in 2012 beating case

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — The former leader of one of the country's largest suburban police departments has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison.

Former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke got the 46-month sentence Wednesday. He has already served 11 months.

Federal prosecutors say he recruited a long list of accomplices to cover up his precinct house beating of a man who stole embarrassing items from his SUV back in 2012.

“During his tenure as the highest ranking uniformed officer in the Suffolk County Police Department, James Burke considered himself untouchable. He abused his authority by brazenly assaulting a handcuffed prisoner, he pressured subordinates to lie to cover up his criminal acts, and he attempted to thwart the civil rights investigation into his conduct,” stated United States Attorney Robert Capers. “With today’s sentence, Burke learned that no one is above the law and that the consequences for such egregious behavior are severe.”

Burke apologized at his sentencing to police, the judge, the victim and the community.

Prosecutors signaled this week that more people, including "high-ranking officials" from other county agencies on Long Island could face charges.

They said in a letter to the court that Burke had help silencing potential whistleblowers in the department.

Burke pleaded guilty last winter in the beating and cover-up. He has asked for no prison time because he says his mother is dying of cancer.

Prosecutors had asked that Burke serve at least four years.