The defendant in an insurance fraud trial under way in Riverhead states in an affidavit that Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy used his political influence to provide protection for the criminal acts of a key witness in the case.
The affidavit, filed by the defendant, former Suffolk Legis. George Guldi, also says that the witness, Levy's one-time friend Ethan Ellner, performed free legal work for Levy and did legal work "for Levy's signature" while Ellner's law license was suspended in 1999 after Ellner's tax evasion conviction. Ellner's license was reinstated in 2001. The affidavit provides no specific details to support the allegations.
In his affidavit, which is a sworn statement, Guldi asserted that Ellner was aware that Levy disliked Guldi and was motivated to lie at the trial to curry favor with Levy.
Levy declined to be interviewed about Guldi's allegations, but issued a statement: "As I've said before, Mr. Ellner was once a friend and we had occasional business interaction. But to suggest that these mortgage fraud and forgery indictments against Mr. Guldi were somehow brought by the D.A. because I didn't like Mr. Guldi is the height of absurdity. Next, Guldi will say I framed Roger Rabbit."
Guldi is on trial for insurance fraud in connection with a November 2008 fire that destroyed his Westhampton Beach home. He is also charged with involvement in an $82-million mortgage fraud case.
Ellner, who was also charged in the mortgage fraud case, pleaded guilty to grand larceny charges and is now testifying against Guldi.
Guldi filed the affidavit to try to compel Levy to testify at the trial. Suffolk County Attorney Christine Malafi has moved to block Guldi's effort, and County Court Judge James F.X. Doyle, who is presiding over the trial, has not yet ruled on the issue.
The relationship of Guldi, Levy and Ellner has been in the spotlight in recent weeks as Guldi, who is representing himself, fights the insurance fraud and grand larceny charges filed against him by Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota. Ellner took the stand yesterday and is expected to continue his testimony today.
The affidavit also refers, without any explanation, to a "debauched trip to Puerto Rico which Ellner and Levy took together and their activities there which were anti-social or illegal and/or highly embarrassing in which they engaged together."
Guldi's statement also refers to what it describes as Levy's business dealings with Ellner, including what Guldi characterized as irregularities in transactions involving apartment buildings in Eastport and Albany that were owned by Levy. He also alleges, without details, "other irregular property transfers and eviction proceedings."
Guldi states that Levy intervened to obtain and expedite permits for Ellner's projects and protected him from violations.
Real estate records reviewed by Newsday show that Ellner has handled at least one closing, several evictions and title work on at least four of Levy's properties since 1997.
In a recent statement to Newsday, Levy, who took office in 2004, said he often relied on friends in the legal community to help him with his legal practice. In a statement released Friday, Levy spokesman Dan Aug said, "The county executive never said there was free legal work done for him since he has been county executive."