Suffolk’s Conservative Party made a guest appearance during the sentencing this week of the party’s former leader Edward Walsh — when a prosecutor’s attempt to put Walsh’s party connections in a negative light was countered by the judge.
At several points during the hearing Tuesday in U.S. District Court, prosecutor Raymond Tierney hammered away at what he said was Walsh’s continued influence within the party.
Tierney argued, for example, that a prison term as punishment for Walsh’s conviction on federal wire fraud and theft of government services charges wouldn’t unduly harm Walsh’s family — in part because Walsh’s wife earns $80,000 a year working part-time for State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore).
In March, Boyle received the Conservative Party’s nod to run for Suffolk County sheriff over incumbent Vincent DeMarco — a Conservative who had testified against Walsh during his trial last year.
At another point, Tierney noted that many of the more than 40 letters written to U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Spatt supporting leniency for Walsh had come from those with Conservative Party connections. “A significant number of them are beholden to the defendant for jobs or political affiliation,” Tierney said.
One letter came from a man whose wife had received the party’s endorsement for a townwide position in Islip.
Tierney went on to detail the party’s influence, noting that its endorsement was considered key to winning races in a county where registration for major parties is pretty much even.
At that point, Spatt interrupted. “You don’t have to tell me,” Spatt said lightly, referring to his time as a New York State judge. “I won the Conservative [line] for election to Supreme Court.”
A few chuckles, from all sides, briefly broke the tension in the courtroom, before Tiernan returned to his argument.
“What you have here is a political boss who thought he was above the law . . . the defendant thought his political power would insulate him,” Tiernan said. “But for the intercession of the FBI, he would have been insulated.”
Then it was Walsh’s turn to speak. “I will not let this define me,” he said, reading from a statement that included references to his family and veterans. Walsh, who seemed to have had a difficult time staying still during the hearing, wiped each eye after he sat down.
Spatt sentenced Walsh to two years in prison and ordered that he repay more than $200,000 in salary and overtime he collected while gambling, golfing and attending to political business — when he should have been working as a sheriff’s lieutenant.
After the proceeding ended, and as the courtroom started to clear, Spatt spoke out once more.
“I wish you good luck in the future,” he told Walsh. “ . . . You should make up for this and go on to a better life.”