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Suffolk Democratic Party Chair Schaffer Testifies In Spota Trial

Julio Avila
The Alfonse M. D'Amato United States Courthouse in Central Islip.

Suffolk Democratic Party Chairman Richard Schaffer spent Monday on the witness stand in the federal corruption trial of former District Attorney Thomas Spota and his top aide, Christopher McPartland.

The two men are accused of orchestrating a cover-up after former Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke beat a man in police custody who had broken into his car. 

Both have pleaded not guilty.

Schaffer testified that he introduced Burke to Steve Bellone, who was then county executive-elect, in an effort to help Burke get the job.

Soon after, Bellone got an anonymous letter that Burke frequented prostitutes. Schaffer says Spota then wrote a letter to Bellone that praised Burke’s leadership qualities.

Schaffer says he felt good about introducing Burke to Bellone because of Spota’s support.

Terry Sheridan is an award-winning audio journalist. As part of his duties as Senior Director of News and Education, he developed a unique and award-winning internship program with the Stony Brook University School of Communications and Journalism, where he is also a lecturer and adjunct professor. He also mentors graduate fellows from the Sacred Heart University Graduate School of Communication, Media, and the Arts.