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Former Suffolk Conservative Party chief Edward Walsh completes federal sentence

Edward Walsh leaves federal court in Central Islip

Edward Walsh leaves federal court in Central Islip on March 14, 2016.  Credit: Ed Betz

Edward Walsh, the former head of the Suffolk County Conservative Party, finished Friday his two-year federal prison sentence for wire fraud and theft of government services in connection with his other job as lieutenant in the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, records show .

Walsh, 53, of East Islip, was convicted in 2016 of illegally pocketing more than $200,000 in pay he collected in the sheriff’s department while he was actually golfing, gambling or politicking.

In addition to the two-year sentence, Walsh also was ordered to make $202,000 in restitution, and forfeit $245,000. In addition, he was ordered to serve three years of supervised release.

Walsh declined to discuss the case or his longtime, influential role in politics Friday, but said: “I look forward to spending time with my family … and helping my community like I have always done — the good stuff.”

“Nobody ever talks about the 5,000 good things I did,” Walsh said, reeling off a lengthy list of activities, such as being on the local school board, and working for various young people’s athletic leagues in the East Islip area.

Walsh said he has no definitive future career plans, adding he has a number of “different opportunities.”

Walsh had been released from federal prison in May in order to complete the last several months of his sentence at a halfway house in transition to civilian life.

But halfway houses, which are privately run, are reluctant to take prisoners who were involved in law enforcement because of the possibility that other residents might attempt to injure them.

So Walsh was allowed to serve out the two-month remainder of his sentence confined to his East Islip home, and was monitored by an electronic bracelet.

Walsh said that while being confined to his home, he really couldn’t spend family time in a normal way, such as going out to dinner with his family.

Similarly, former Suffolk police chief James Burke served the last few months of his federal prison sentence confined to his home in St. James, checked up on regularly by federal probation officers, and monitored by an electronic bracelet.

Burke was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison in November of 2016 for violation of civil rights and obstruction of justice in a case involving his assault on Christopher Loeb. Loeb had broken into Burke’s department sport utility vehicle and stolen a duffel bag containing a gun belt, ammunition, sex toys and adult pornography.

At Walsh’s trial in federal court in Central Islip, his defense was that he had flexible hours as to when and where he worked because he was supposed to be a liaison for the sheriff’s department to the public and government officials.

But Eastern District federal prosecutors Catherine Mirabile and Raymond Tierney said that was not Walsh’s assignment, and he was actually supposed to be working at the sheriff’s department and follow a regular schedule of shifts.

Walsh was convicted of the charges after a 10-day trial in federal court in Central Islip after a jury deliberated for one hour.

Before he was sentenced Walsh told U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt: “I humbly accept the verdict of the jury … I will continue to make the world a better place … I will love this great country and everything it stands for.”

In imposing the sentence, Judge Spatt said he hoped that it would send a message to public officials: “Don’t do this. …This defendant undermined the trust that is essential to the functioning of our government” because he had “cheated and defrauded the citizens of this community.”

But Spatt also noted that he took into account that Walsh had led “a good and productive life … and has helped many people.”

The government’s case was built on FBI agents noting the discrepancies on the time sheets Walsh submitted to the sheriff’s department with his actual locations, according to his telephone and credit records, indicating his presence at golf courses and casinos.

Walsh served his initial sentence at a minimum security federal prison in West Virginia. But a year ago, he was transferred to the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Massachusetts, because of a foot injury.

John Marzulli, spokesman for Eastern District federal prosecutors, declined to comment.

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