Former legislator pleads guilty to tampering with public records and patronizing a prostitute

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On Thursday in Riverhead, Dr. William Spencer, 55, of Centerport, pled guilty to the crimes of Tampering with Public Records in the First Degree and Patronizing a Person for Prostitution in the Third Degree. The proceeding took place before the Honorable John B. Collins, Justice of the Suffolk County Supreme Court.

Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney, and United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) New York Division Special Agent in Charge Frank A. Tarentino III announced the guilty plea of the former Suffolk County Legislator for filing a false sworn written statement with the Suffolk County Police Department in July 2020, in which he lied about never having previously patronized prostitutes.

“This is a sad day. Dr. Spencer admitted to violating the laws he swore to uphold as an elected official and wasting police resources by lying in a sworn written statement,” said Tierney. “No one is above the law, including elected officials who engage in criminal conduct. My Office is committed to the evenhanded administration of justice, and this guilty plea demonstrates that holding a political office is not a license to break the law.”

“Dr. Spencer’s guilty plea emphasizes the DEA’s commitment to investigating people and organizations whose criminal actions threaten public safety and public health, no matter their profession,” said Special Agent in Charge Tarantino. “As a result of this investigation, Dr. Spencer’s DEA Registration was suspended with no option of renewal. I commend the diligent work by the DEA’s Long Island District Office and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.”

According to court filings and statements made by the defendant at the guilty plea proceeding, on July 2, 2020, Spencer filed a complaint with the Suffolk County Police Department alleging that he had been the victim of an extortion scheme involving prostitution. At that time, Spencer gave a sworn written statement to detectives, in which he stated in the relevant part “I have not sought the services of prostitutes or call girls.”

Pursuant to an investigation conducted with the assistance of the DEA’s Long Island Heroin Task Force, Spencer contacted a woman whom he had previously patronized for purposes of prostitution, but whose phone was then in the possession of law enforcement.  Thereafter, on October 20, 2020, an undercover police officer posing as a prostitute contacted Spencer. Spencer agreed via text message to unlawfully provide the undercover police officer with oxycodone pills in exchange for sexual conduct, with Spencer texting to the undercover officer “We trade.” Spencer was arrested at the arranged meeting location—a parking lot behind a shopping center on Jericho Turnpike in Elwood—in his County-issued vehicle.  Dr. Spencer was found in possession of two 30-milligram oxycodone pills which he possessed without a prescription. Following his arrest, the investigation revealed that Spencer had previously patronized sex workers, therefore revealing the written statement he made to detectives in July 2020 to be false.

Following the guilty plea, Dr. Spencer was sentenced to a one-year term of interim probation which includes a term of imprisonment of six months and 420 hours of community service. If Spencer successfully completes the interim probation period, the felony charge will be dismissed and he will serve an additional two-year term of probation on the patronizing charge.  As a further condition of his plea, Spencer agreed never to re-apply for registration as a physician with the DEA to prescribe controlled substances. Following his plea, Spencer agreed to begin serving the six-month term of imprisonment.

Dr. Spencer served as a Suffolk County Legislator from January 2012 through December 2021 representing Suffolk County’s 18th Legislative District. He left the Suffolk County Legislature following the expiration of his term of office in December 2021.  Dr. Spencer also owned a private medical practice located in Huntington. Dr. Spencer is being represented by Anthony M. La Pinta, Esq.

The DEA’s Long Island Heroin Task Force comprises law enforcement agents from the DEA, New York State Police, Suffolk County Police Department, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, Nassau County Police Department, and Nassau County Sheriff’s Office.

District Attorney Tierney also thanked the Suffolk County Police Department’s Human Trafficking Investigations Unit for their assistance with the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Deputy Bureau Chief Laura de Oliveira and Bureau Chief Kevin Ward of the District Attorney’s Public Corruption Bureau.

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