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Long IslandCrime

At Edward Walsh trial, prosecutors build trail of purchases

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On March 15, 2016, the trial is scheduled to begin for former Suffolk sheriff's lieutenant and current chairman of the Suffolk County Conservative Party, Edward Walsh. Let's take a look back at some key points of this story. (Credit: Newsday Staff)

His purchase of a bottle of Snapple, a cigar and rounds of golf were included among the mountains of records that federal prosecutors introduced Thursday in an attempt to build a case against Suffolk County Party Conservative Party leader Edward Walsh.

Walsh, a recently retired lieutenant in the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, is charged in federal court in Central Islip with illegally collecting more than $200,000 in pay by claiming to be working at the jail while he was in fact golfing, gambling or engaged in Conservative Party activities, according to Eastern District prosecutors.

Walsh’s attorneys say that his main job was as a community liaison for the sheriff’s department so his hours were flexible and he could make up later for time he did not work.

Prosecutors Thursday had witness after witness — from institutions such as American Express and banks — vouch for the paper and electronic trail of records of purchases and travel generated by Walsh.

Prosecutors appear to be laying the groundwork for showing that most of the activities occurred while Walsh was supposed to be working for the sheriff’s department. The records included the times and locations of when Walsh withdrew money from bank accounts and took a ferry across Long Island Sound to gamble at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

The bottle of Snapple (flavor was not disclosed) was purchased at 1:43 p.m. on July 24, 2013, at the Hampton Hills Golf and Country Club in Westhampton, prosecutors said.

The cigar was purchased a month later, at 3:17 p.m. on Aug. 20, 2013 at the same golf club, prosecutors also said.

The purchases were put into evidence along with records of golf rounds that Walsh played not only at Hampton Hills but also at the Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton and Timber Point in Great River.

Defense attorneys questioned whether the times on the records were accurate.

Prosecutors put three people on the witness stand in an attempt to bolster their assertion that Walsh was elsewhere when he was supposed to be working at the jail.

One witness, John Ruocco, the former head of Interceptor Ignition Interlocks, said that Walsh was present at a company shareholder meeting in Shirley in February 2104 after Ruocco lost control of the company to politically connected developer Gary Melius.

Ruocco testified briefly about Walsh’s presence at the meeting and was not cross-examined by defense attorneys. Walsh has said he was present solely as a friend of Melius.

A second witness, subpoenaed by federal prosecutors, was developer Gerald Wolkoff. Wolkoff was apparently subpoenaed to support prosecutors’ contention that Walsh was not engaged in any type of community outreach for the sheriff when he played golf with prominent people.

Wolkoff said that Walsh would tell him that he might have to return to the sheriff’s office when they played golf in case something came up.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt has said he thought the case should only be about whether or not Walsh illegally received pay and that other matters related to the political backdrop of the case were irrelevant or prejudicial.

But Wolkoff brought in a mention of Walsh’s political clout when he said that at one point Walsh set up a meeting between him and Islip Town Councilwoman Mary Kate Mullen at Wolkoff’s request when she was first running for office. Wolkoff said he wanted to see what Mullen’s views were of his development of the Pilgrim State property and other properties.

Mullen could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The third witness, Anthony Senft, a recently elected Suffolk County District Court judge and a former Town of Islip councilman, was just beginning to be questioned about a number of Conservative Party meetings where Walsh was present when the trial ended for the day.

The trial is expected to continue Monday and last for two more weeks.

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