Guldi pleads guilty to bilking banks

George Guldi, former Suffolk County legislator, inside a

George Guldi, former Suffolk County legislator, inside a Riverhead courtroom. (March 21, 2011) Photo Credit: James Carbone

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Former Suffolk Legis. George Guldi abandoned a legal marathon Friday when he admitted bilking banks out of millions of dollars.

His plea to 34 counts of grand larceny and scheme to defraud came in the midst of jury selection for the second of what would have been three trials and ends the cases against him. The counts that Guldi pleaded to included charges from both the second and third trials.

In return for the pleas, Suffolk County Court Judge James F.X. Doyle promised to sentence him to 1 to 3 years in prison -- far less than the 8 1/3 to 25 years sought by Suffolk prosecutors. The sentence also will run concurrently with the 4 to 12 years Guldi is serving for his insurance fraud conviction earlier this year.

When Guldi, who is from Westhampton Beach, was charged in 2008, prosecutors said he and his co-defendants stole more than $80 million from lenders while running what may have been the largest mortgage fraud ring Suffolk County had ever seen. The fraudulent mortgages were on more than 60 properties on the East End and in the Huntington area.

The lawyer for Guldi's co-defendant, Brandon Lisi, 37, negotiated the plea deal for his client and Guldi, who had been representing himself.

"The district attorney's office has spent a ton of money, a ton of time on some major prosecutions," said Lisi's lawyer Eric Naiburg of Central Islip. "Those prosecutions ended not with a bang, but with a whimper."

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Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said he disagreed with the deal. He said in a statement, "I am extremely disappointed that, over our objection, the judge has promised the defendant a sentence that is completely inadequate to punish him and to deter the massive mortgage fraud that has so severely impacted our local economy."

In court, Assistant District Attorney Maureen McCormack objected to the lack of restitution orders.

"Mr. Guldi's greed leaves a trail of financial ruin heretofore unseen in this county," Spota said in the statement.

Lisi, a lawyer from Dix Hills, also got a promise of 1 to 3 years in prison from Doyle; prosecutors said they wanted 5 to 15 years for Lisi.

After entering his guilty pleas, Guldi said, "I guess a grace period [to be free before sentencing] is out of the question." Guldi is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 31.

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