A federal prosecutor said Friday that every time sheet Suffolk County Conservative Party chairman Edward Walsh submitted weekly for 39 months in his other job with the county sheriff’s department claimed hours he did not work, “except for when he was on vacation.”
The allegation by Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Mirabile — who added that Walsh illegally received more than $80,000 as a result of his scheme — came at a pretrial hearing for him at the federal courthouse in Central Islip.
Mirabile said that between January 2011 and April 2014, Walsh, a lieutenant in the sheriff’s department, illegally billed for time he spent at his tailor getting fitted for clothing, at home, and golfing, gambling or engaged in Conservative Party activities.
The illegal billing occurred not only for time Walsh was scheduled to work, but even included supposed overtime, Mirabile said.
Walsh was indicted in March on charges of theft of government funds and wire fraud for the alleged illegal billing scheme. He has pleaded not guilty.
An attorney for Walsh, Leonard Lato of Hauppauge, said after the hearing that his client has done nothing wrong.
“The evidence at trial will show that . . . wherever he was, he was doing the sheriff’s business,” said Lato, who along with William Wexler of North Babylon is defending Walsh.
Previously, Wexler had said Walsh made up for the phony time alleged in the indictment by working at other hours, and in any event it was understood that his main work as a community liaison allowed for flexible hours.
In other actions, U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt delayed both the start of jury selection and the start of the trial by a day, saying there were many other juries being selected on the day jury selection for Walsh’s trial was to start.
Jury selection for his trial will now begin on March 15, and the trial will begin the next day.
Spatt also declined a request by Walsh’s attorneys to postpone the trial to an even later date, after they said they didn’t believe there was adequate time to prepare for trial given the thousands of pages of records that prosecutors had handed over to them.
The trial date ends up being financially beneficial for Walsh, sources said. Walsh’s pension for his $121,000-a-year sheriff’s job will not vest until February, and if he had been convicted before then he would have had difficulty collecting it.
Spatt also declined two motions the defense made: to throw out the theft of government funds charge on the grounds it did not cover the actions Walsh was accused of, and requesting a bill of particulars from the government — a more detailed list of the specific actions in which the government alleges Walsh was involved.
The indictment has not slowed Walsh’s political leadership. A day after he was indicted, Walsh was actively screening candidates for the county legislature and Brookhaven Town offices, according to records, and he has since been active in selecting nominees for judgeships.
While Walsh has been asked by federal investigators about corruption in the selection of Suffolk County judges, he has told them that he has no knowledge of anything improper, and that the selection processes involved standard political activities, according to Wexler.
Wexler said he believed getting information on supposed corruption in Suffolk was the motivation for his client’s indictment.
Lato has said that the government has offered Walsh a plea deal, which was turned down. He did not say what the terms of the deal were, but sources have said it would require Walsh to plead guilty to a single count of theft of government funds. Under federal guidelines, the sentence for such a guilty plea would be in the range of 33 to 41 months in prison.
Mirabile and fellow prosecutor Raymond Tierney declined to comment after the hearing.