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Defense seeks to delay Walsh sentencing after new accusations

Edward Walsh leaves federal court in Central Islip,

Edward Walsh leaves federal court in Central Islip, March 14, 2016. Walsh was in court for a pre-trial hearing. Credit: Ed Betz

Federal prosecutors say Suffolk County Conservative Party Leader Edward Walsh cheated the county out of hundreds of thousands of dollars more than what they previously asserted and tried to influence the testimony of three potential trial witnesses.

Walsh has not been charged with any crime associated with those accusations, contained in a pre-sentence prosecution memo cited in defense papers. But, under the law, a judge can consider such assertions when weighing a sentence and Walsh’s defense team says the new allegations should delay his sentencing scheduled for Friday.

Walsh, who was a lieutenant in the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, was convicted last April in federal court in Central Islip of wire fraud and theft of government services. Prosecutors said he illegally pocketed more than $200,000 for supposedly working at the county jail while he was actually golfing, gambling, and engaging in political activities.

Those crimes alone call for a sentence of between 24- and 30 months under suggested, but not mandatory, federal sentencing guidelines, Walsh’s attorneys Leonard Lato, of Hauppauge, and William Wexler, of North Babylon, say in federal court papers. A federal judge decides the final sentence.

But the lawyers say in the court papers filed this weekend they want a pre-sentence hearing because they claim that the new accusations prompted federal prosecutors to now unfairly ask for an enhanced sentence of between 37- to -46 months.

The two said the prosecutors claim Walsh actually cheated the county out of $442,000 — though that amount was not mentioned at the trial — and also obstructed justice by attempting to have three potential witnesses at the trial testify falsely.

The defense attorneys denied the new accusations and say prosecutors misunderstood the nature of the conversations between Walsh and the three potential witnesses, the defense attorneys said.

Only one of the three could be reached immediately for comment, but he was the one who actually testified, Vito D’Agnello, the now retired president of the Suffolk County Correction Officers union.

At trial, he said that Walsh was trying to influence his testimony but later, under defense questioning, denied Walsh or others had done that.

When reached by phone Monday, D’Agnello said only that Walsh was “making himself out to be more than he was,” and exaggerating his role to justify his actions.

The other two, who did not testify, could not be reached.

Judges may, in sentencing, consider a variety of factors going to a convicted person’s conduct and character.

The pre-sentencing memorandum in the Walsh case, filed by Eastern District Assistant United States Attorneys Catherine Mirabile and Raymond Tierney, to U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt, is not public. But the government memorandum is quoted extensively in the defense papers, which are public.

Whether the Walsh sentencing will go forward on Friday is up to Spatt but judges usually agree to hear such issues at what is known as a Fatico hearing.

A spokesman for the United States Attorney’s office, John Marzulli declined to comment, as did Wexler.

— With Rick Brand

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