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John Oliva

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Detective John Oliva and Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta at the podium. Photo from Trotta's office

A standing ovation from the members of the Suffolk County Legislature and the audience was music to the ears of former Detective John Oliva and his previous FBI Gang Task Force member and current legislator, Rob Trotta. All 18 members of the Legislature signed a proclamation congratulating Oliva on his vindication and the dismissal of the charges previously filed against him, which forced him to retire, according to Trotta’s office.

In 2014, then Detective Oliva retired from the Suffolk County Police Department due to trumped up charges orchestrated by former and now convicted felon Tom Spota, according to Trotta’s office. It was revealed during the federal corruption trial of Spota and his former top aide, Christopher McPartland, that they and former Chief of Police James Burke initiated and coordinated the charges against Oliva, who they suspected was revealing previously unreported serious gang crimes to the media, which embarrassed Burke and Spota. Burke, Spota and McPartland all received lengthy prison sentences.

Throughout his career, Oliva was closely engaged with the communities he served and was an asset to the FBI Gang Task Force as he was fluent in Spanish. At the March 29 meeting of the Legislature, Oliva noted that he loved his job, would still be working today and that he was very successful in locating and arresting members of the MS 13.  He pointed out that gang members have regular 9-5 jobs in our neighborhoods, but on nights and weekends, they become a different person. Trotta added that the current trial that is going on with the killing of several young men by the MS 13 could probably have been avoided if Burke did not dismantle the county’s police department’s partnership with the FBI task force.

“John Oliva was a terrific cop with a great arrest record and he served the department and the residents with distinction,” Trotta said.