Ruling: Official can be named at fraud trial

George Guldi arrives at Riverhead Criminal Court. (Jan. George Guldi arrives at Riverhead Criminal Court. (Jan. 5, 2011) Photo Credit: James Carbone

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The name of a "high elected official" who is alleged to have received cash payments or campaign contributions in exchange for giving a Stony Brook title company public work can be revealed in an upcoming fraud trial, according to a court ruling issued Thursday.

These allegations are contained in court papers in the upcoming mortgage fraud trial of George Guldi, a former Suffolk County legislator. Guldi states in those papers that he learned of the alleged payments from a witness who is expected to testify against him in the trial.

The office of Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota had asked the court to prevent the name of this official from being made public. His office confirmed that acting Supreme Court Justice James F.X. Doyle rejected the motion. Doyle also denied the district attorney's request for a gag order to prevent parties in the case from revealing that name to reporters.

The district attorney's office declined to comment on the ruling. Guldi also declined to comment.

Also Thursday, Guldi had Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy served with a subpoena to compel him to testify in the trial, which is scheduled to start Friday before Doyle.

Levy spokesman Mark Smith said in a statement that "this is not a court-ordered subpoena but was concocted by a desperate, pro se defendant seeking to create a Jerry Springer atmosphere to divert attention from his mortgage fraud indictment."

Smith said Levy would move to quash the subpoena.

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Guldi, a lawyer, is defending himself in the case, which is the first of two cases arising out the district attorney's investigation into an $82-million mortgage fraud scheme.

At issue in Thursday's ruling is the expected testimony of Ethan Ellner, who was a co-defendant in the case but has agreed to testify against Guldi.

Last June, according to court papers, Guldi told the district attorney's office that Ellner had made cash payments to an elected official and received county work for his title company. Papers filed by the district attorney's office characterized the payments described by Guldi as campaign contributions.

Records show that a title company operated in part by Ellner received more than $85,000 in county title work from 2005 to 2009. Last April, Levy said he recommended Ellner, a longtime friend, for the work. Ellner had previously been convicted of tax evasion.

Of Guldi's allegation, Levy said earlier this week that defendants "often fabricate claims in the hopes of softening their sentences."

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