What was in the bag? Answer still elusive in case of Suffolk police chief’s alleged abuse

Posted at 7:45 PM, Jun 27, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-27 21:43:11-04

SUFFOLK CO. LONG ISLAND (PIX11)–  New information may help to provide an answer to the big mystery shrouding the case of the chief of one of the country’s biggest departments allegedly abusing a prisoner:  what did that man see when he was illegally in possession of the chief’s personal belongings that would cause the chief to confront the man who was under arrest?

The facts alone point to wrongdoing on the part of Chief of Department James Burke of Suffolk County Police. Police reports show that Burke appeared at the Smithtown home of Chris Loeb, 26, around 12:30 a.m. on December 14th of last year.

Loeb was under arrest, accused of breaking into and stealing from at least a dozen cars in the village of St. James, including the unmarked, police-issued SUV of Chief Burke.  Loeb allegedly removed a duffel bag from the chief’s SUV.  In it, according to police, were the chief’s gun belt, ammunition, handcuffs, and “other items.”

After Loeb was under arrest at his home, the chief showed up.  Loeb has told his mother, Jane Loeb, that the chief beat him up while he was in handcuffs.

The beating continued, Loeb has told his mother, after he was taken to the Fourth Precinct the morning of his arrest.  In fact, Chief Burke reportedly ordered everyone who was in a room with Loeb to clear out, and to leave the two of them alone.  That’s when, according to Loeb, the chief beat him up again.

The chief has denied the accusations, and has refused to talk about them.  His department has officially said that it would be inappropriate for the chief to make a statement, since he is the victim of a crime and ongoing investigation.

That did not, however, stop the chief from showing up at Loeb’s home in the first place last December, in response to the alleged theft of his personal belongings.  It is not clear what some of the “other items” in Burke’s duffel bag were.  Of course, that’s not stopping police sources familiar with the case from commenting off the record.

“This is not confirmed,” said retired NYPD detective sergeant and PIX11 News commentator Wally Zeins about information he has received regarding the police chief’s stolen item of luggage.  “[But] there might have been a gun left in the car. And… [Burke] was able to get the gun back.”

If true, that could constitute evidence tampering.  At this time, however, it can’t be confirmed.  What is certain is that there were those “other items” in the chief’s stolen duffel bag.  That description, however, makes a veteran investigator very curious.

“The first thing you want to know,” said Detective Zeins, “is what are those other items?  Could they endanger the safety of other people?”

Loeb is expected to provide testimony against the chief in a federal probe that’s now underway. Officers who were involved in Loeb’s arrest have been subpoenaed as well, and, like Loeb, are expected to testify before a federal grand jury.