Victim of Suffolk County police beating, cover-up freed from prison

RIVERHEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- A man who was beaten by a New York police chief after he was accused of stealing sex toys and other items from his police vehicle was released from prison Tuesday.

Christopher Loeb, of Smithtown, was jailed after he stole a duffel bag containing the toys and police equipment from the vehicle of Suffolk County Police Chief James Burke.

Burke, who is serving a 4-year prison term after pleading guilty last year, beat and threatened to kill Loeb at a police station in 2012.

"For the first time in four years, I can actually enjoy my freedom knowing that James Burke is incarcerated and unable to harm my family," he said. "Or me or any other resident of Suffolk County."

Loeb was sentenced to three years after pleading guilty to criminal possession of a weapon, but his attorney had long maintained the conviction should not hold since Suffolk County police officers lied to investigators in order to protect Burke.

"Chris deserves a lot of credit for insisting on telling the truth about what happened," attorney Bruce Barket said.

A judge agreed, releasing Loeb from federal custody but saying Loeb still must be held responsible for stealing Burke's gun. He was in prison on a parole violation when his conviction was overturned.

"I know I have challenges ahead of me, and I look forward to meeting them," Loeb said. "I have faith and hope necessary to be the productive, successful and happy person that I want to be."

A judge says Loeb will be retried. His attorney says the case should be dismissed.

The special prosecutor says it's highly unlikely Loeb will have to serve anymore prison time.

"Our system is based upon how a person gets convicted, as well the conviction itself," special prosecutor William Ferris said. "And that process has to be upheld."

Loeb is due back in court March 3.
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