Former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke was arrested at Suffolk County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park in Farmingville, the county executive’s office said.
Burke was charged with public lewdness, indecent exposure, criminal solicitation and offering a sex act, according to the county executive’s office.
The sting operation that netted Burke was conducted in response to “numerous complaints” about individuals soliciting sex at the Suffolk County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park.
Undercover Rangers reported encountering an individual “soliciting for sexual engagement.” Commissioner Harrison said.
“Due to the actions that I am not going to share, this individual was placed under arrest,” said Harrison. “The rangers ascertained that our perpetrator involved was identified as James Burke, former chief of the Suffolk County Police Department.”
Burke, 58, from Smithtown, New York, was taken to the Sixth Precinct and charged with exposure of a person and public lewdness. Additional charges are pending, according to Harrison.
Tania Lopez, a spokeswoman for Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney, said Burke has been released and is scheduled to appear in court September 11, the Fox report noted.
Authorities mentioned that Burke tried to use his former position to avoid the arrest.
Stephen Laton, chief of the Suffolk County Park Rangers, shared that the ranger who arrested Burke was unaware of his former law enforcement position until he identified himself.
“Do you know who I am?” Burke asked Suffolk County Park Ranger Sergeant Brian Quattrini upon arrest. “He was expressing to us how this would be a public humiliation for him and such.”
Burke served as the police chief of Suffolk County from 2012 to 2015.
His tenure ended in controversy concluded by his arrest and subsequent guilty plea to federal charges for assaulting a handcuffed individual who allegedly stole items from his department SUV.
The scandal also led to the conviction of the county’s district attorney and head of the county’s anti-corruption unit for helping cover up the assault. Burke resigned in 2015 and was incarcerated for 40 months with his release in 2019.