SUFFOLK COUNTY, N.Y. – James Burke is a disgraced former Suffolk County Police Chief who sullied his reputation on multiple occasions. He was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for battering a handcuffed suspect and then covering it up. Moreover, officials believe he botched the more than a decade-long investigation into the Gilgo Beach murders on Long Island. Now the man is in the center of another embarrassing allegation as he was arrested Tuesday morning by county park rangers in Brookhaven on charges of sexual misconduct, according to reports.
Suffolk Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison said at a press conference that Burke was arrested on multiple sexual misconduct charges. Investigators launched an inquiry after receiving “numerous complaints” about people soliciting sex at the Suffolk County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park in Farmingville, New York. As a result, the Suffolk County Park Rangers’ Targeted Response Unit conducted a sting operation, Long Island Press reported.
Undercover personnel engaged one person during the investigation at 10:15 a.m. who “was soliciting for sexual engagement,” Harrison said. “Due to the actions that I am not going to share, this individual was placed under arrest. The rangers ascertained that our perpetrator involved was identified as James Burke, former chief of the Suffolk County Police Department.”
Burke, 58, of Smithtown, New York, reportedly asked the arresting officers if they knew who he was, further adding the arrest would lead to public humiliation for him, noted Stephen Laton, chief of the Suffolk County Park Rangers.
“The ranger who made the arrest of Mr. Burke did not know he was [James Burke] … not at first, not until he identified himself and said who he was and said, ‘Do you know who I am?’” Laton during a Tuesday press conference.
“He was expressing to us how this would be a public humiliation for him and such,” Sgt. Brian Quattrini, also of the Suffolk County Park Rangers, added.
After he was taken into custody, Burke was booked at the Sixth Precinct on charges of exposure of a person and public lewdness. Additional charges are pending, officials said.
Once processing was complete, Burke was issued a desk appearance citation and released. He is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 11, Tania Lopez, a spokeswoman for Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney, told Fox News Digital.
Burke was Suffolk County’s police chief from 2012 to 2015. The arrest further stains the already dreadful reputation he carries.
The disgraced chief was sentenced in November 2016 to 46 months in prison for assault and obstruction of justice. Burke pleaded guilty to the 2012 beating of Christopher Loeb for stealing his stash of sex toys and other items from his department SUV. He served 40 months and was released from federal prison in 2019. His probation ended last year, the New York Post reported.
Burke resigned in late 2015, just before federal prosecutors charged him with the crimes. The scandal extended beyond Burke. Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, 81, and the chief of Spota’s anti-corruption bureau, Christopher McPartland, 57, are both serving five-year prison sentences for witness tampering, obstruction of justice and conspiracy as they tried to help Burke cover up his misdeeds.
During his tenure, Burke oversaw the high-profile investigation into the deaths of multiple sex workers whose bodies were discovered in the area of Gilgo Beach on a desolate stretch of Long Island coastline.
Several law enforcement officials criticized Burke over his handling of the investigation since he reportedly blocked his department’s cooperation with the FBI, reported Fox News.
Rex A. Heuermann was a married Nassau County-based architect who worked in Manhattan prior to his arrest last month for multiple murders — 13 years after the first corpse was found, Law Officer reported.
At least 11 sets of human remains have been found along Ocean Parkway, near Gilgo Beach, since 2010, according to Suffolk County Police. Heuermann is suspected of committing at least three of the homicides as investigators work to connect him to others.