A federal judge Wednesday turned down a defense motion to acquit Suffolk County Conservative Party leader Edward Walsh of theft and wire fraud charges.
The motion by Walsh’s lawyers to throw out the government’s case for lack of sufficient evidence is routine in many federal criminal trials after the defense and prosecution rest.
In denying the defense motion, U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt, at the federal court in Central Islip, noted that the law requires him to consider such a motion while giving the greatest weight to the government’s case.
While not taking sides, Spatt ruled that the trial should go forward because the government had presented sufficient evidence so that a “rational” juror could find Walsh guilty of the charges.
The decision came on a day, with the jury off, that was spent mainly with Spatt, Eastern District federal prosecutors--Catherine Mirabile and Raymond Tierney--and defense attorneys--William Wexler, of North Babylon, and Leonard Lato, of Hauppauge--discussing the judge’s proposed jury charge. The charge is the judge’s instructions to the jury on how they are to use the law, the evidence and testimony in determining whether to acquit or convict Walsh.
Both sides are expected to sum up their cases Thursday and the judge is then expected to deliver his charge to the jury. Spatt said the jury’s deliberations may begin late Thursday or tomorrow Friday.
The lawyers are expected to give one-hour summations of their cases. Because they have the burden of proof in a criminal trial, prosecutors are then expected to give a final rebuttal to the defense case that should last twenty minutes, before the jury charge.
Walsh is accused of illegally receiving more than $200,000 in pay and overtime pay when he worked as a lieutenant at the Suffolk County Jail in Riverhead when he was actually golfing, gambling, engaged in Conservative Party activities, or present in his East Islip neighborhood.
Federal prosecutors based the main part of their case on citing the approximate location of where Walsh actually was when he was supposed to be working at the Riverhead jail.
Matching Walsh’s cell-phone records with his credit card, golf, casino gambling, gasoline purchases and bank deposit records, the prosecutors asserted that he was often away from the jail when he put in time slips claiming he was at work.
Defense attorneys maintained that Walsh, in his job as an aide to Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, had a flexible schedule that allowed him to be away from the jail acting as a liaison with community and political figures. Also, they say, Walsh was supposed to attend wakes or funerals of correction officers and their families and visit injured officers at hospitals.