A coincidental convergence

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A coincidental convergence

What do Duke University and Suffolk County have in common?

30 for 30 graphic

I'm a long-time admirer of cable ESPN's "30 for 30" series of sports-related documentary films, but the one in current rotation, "Fantastic Lies" is especially com­pelling... I remember the event from 2006 very well, splashed across the media as the "Duke Lacrosse Rape."

National media and activists (including one of the worst specimens of each, Nancy Grace and Reverend Jesse Jack­son, Jr.) converged in Durham, North Carolina and lather­ed up grotesque levels of animosity against three lacrosse players who were subsequently arrested and charged with first degree forcible rape, first degree sexual offense and kidnapping, convictions for which could have sent them to prison for 30 or more years.

The alleged victim, Crystal Gail Mangum, is black, and the trio of Duke athletes are all white... what a story, a low income minority mother of two savaged assaulted by three young men of privilege.

Except that it never happened... all three young men were fully exonerated when it was learned that Durham County District Attorney Michael Nifong had committed all manner of unethical and illegal acts (including burying exculpatory evidence) in prosecuting the case in fur­ther­ance of raising his profile during a re-election campaign.

(He was subsequently disbarred and spent a day in jail for his actions.

The discredited "victim" is herself in prison for 14-18 years for the 2011 second-degree murder of her boy­friend.)

"Fantastic Lies" is highly recommended, the best of non-fiction television I've seen in ages.

I was reminded of that dreadful injustice by another in­cidence of misfeasance... if not malfeasance... in high places much closer to home this month in following the account of former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke arrest and Guilty plea to federal charges of vio­lating a de­fendant's civil rights and knowingly con­spir­ing to conceal evidence of it.

From a Vice report last month, "The Strange Rise and Violent Fall of Long Island's Dirtiest Police Chief," by Michael Edison Hayden:

"But according to former police officers, local politicians, lawyers, and Suffolk County residents with whom I spoke about the case, Burke's conviction likely rep­re­sents only the first domino to fall in what could be­come one of the more surreal federal probes of local law enforcement in American history."

Sounds juicy enough, but then...

"It involves allegations of illegal wiretapping, cover-ups, sex addiction, drunk-driving cops, and blackmail. It involves a super PAC funded by the Suffolk Police Be­nev­o­lent Association that critics say uses mandatory dona­tions to cement a wall between cops and the people they are paid to protect. And it involves Tom Spota, the longtime Republican-turned-Democrat District Attorney of Suffolk County, who fathered Burke's rise to power through a close friendship that began after they met during the high-profile trial of a bizarre murder case."

Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota

I knew Spota from the early '70s when he was one of Suffolk County District Attorney Harry O'Brien's Detective Investigators who used to stop into The Artful Dodger after playing basket­ball with the boss at the old Six Corners school, and renewed acquaint­ances when he presented then Village Police Chief Ray Dean's force with a new pick-up truck purchased with Asset Forfeiture Funds.

Reading further, another familiar name was introduced:

"...federal investigators were examining the circum­stances under which Officer Oliva's phone was tapped by Spota's office in 2014. The bug was said to be the work of Assistant DA Chris McPartland, who is describ­ed, ironically enough, as Spota's top anti-corruption lawyer."

Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Chris McPartland

O boy!

McPartland, within SCPD privately referred to as the "Lord of Darkness" was some­one with whom I had spoken in 2008... he was actually following OtBB's report­age in­volv­ing the infamous stolen police handgun.

For the record, McPartland's Government Corruption unit provided no assistance to this Village on that protracted investigation, or any other for that matter... and there were multiple referrals to his office according to a source familiar with local law enforcement in the last decade.

"Perhaps we now know why," the source said.

Confidence in public officials continues to decline.

Related news reports...

Comments

1. Hambone said...

They were more than exonerated. The usual ruling is "Not Guilty," they were actually found "Innocent" - a very rare legal ruling.

As a writer who chooses his words carefully, I submit that "fully exonerated" (exactly what I wrote) is quite consistant with a finding of "Innocent." But if you wanna be anal about it, yeah.
Dean

2. Hambone said...

Sorry Dean, to be exonerated means you were at first convicted of a crime. They were not convicted, nor found not guilty. The judge deemed them innocent. It matters.

[sigh]

ex·on·er·ate [ig-zon-uh-reyt] - to clear, as of an accusation; free from guilt or blame; exculpate: He was exonerated from the accusation of cheating.
Dean

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