Attorneys for Suffolk County Conservative Party leader Edward Walsh began their defense case Monday, introducing witnesses who sparred with prosecutors over how Walsh’s movements were tracked during times he was supposed to be working at the Suffolk jail.
Walsh, a former lieutenant in the jail, has maintained he was allowed to work outside the Riverhead facility in his capacity as a liaison to the community and had flexible hours that enabled him to make up for time he didn’t work.
The government charges he stole $200,000 in earnings for playing golf, gambling, conducting Conservative Party business and being at home in East Islip when he was supposed to be putting in 7 1⁄2 -hour days at the jail.
The last government witness, FBI agent Ken Hosey, testified in federal court in Central Islip that a comparison of Walsh’s time sheets with his personal records on cellphone use tracked Walsh’s movements and proved the government’s case.
Defense witness Stanley Pine, the general manager of the Hampton Hills Golf and Country Club, testified under questioning by defense attorney William Wexler that Walsh’s club golfing records weren’t necessarily accurate.
Eastern District prosecutors Catherine Mirabile and Raymond Tierney have said that Walsh played more than 160 rounds of golf at the course between January 2011 and April 2014 while supposedly working at the jail.
Pine said the club bookkeeper, a government witness, might have put down that Walsh played on the date she received information from employees of when Walsh picked up his golf bag and clubs before the round.
But Mirabile said those same handwritten records from the employees were almost identical to computerized records of when he rented a cart to begin a nine- or 18-hole round.
Under cross-examination by Mirabile, Pine acknowledged he was not aware that the club bookkeeper, Christina Ofeldt, adjusted the records to reflect the actual date he played.
“I didn’t know that,” Pine said.
Another defense witness, Vito Dagnello, the former head of the corrections officers union at the jail, said that as an aide to the sheriff, Walsh’s job was to do “whatever the sheriff told him to do.”
But Dagnello repeatedly replied “no” to Mirabile when she asked whether the collective bargaining agreement with the sheriff’s department permitted Walsh to get paid for golfing, gambling or sitting at home.