Suffolk County Conservative Party chairman and former jail lieutenant Edward Walsh exchanged more than 1,000 phone calls per year with staff at the jail day and night, and more than 100 a year with Sheriff Vincent DeMarco between 2008 and 2014, according to government records presented by Walsh’s defense attorney Tuesday morning.
Defense attorney William Wexler, of North Babylon, appeared to be trying to show that Walsh’s duties required him to be on the job around the clock and that he had a close political relationship with DeMarco, a fellow Conservative Party member.
“Out of the 1,300 employees at the jail, who was the most important to you politically?” Wexler asked DeMarco on cross-examination at the federal court in Central Islip. “It was Ed Walsh,” DeMarco said.
It was the second day of testimony for DeMarco in the theft and fraud trial of Walsh, who retired from his sheriff’s job in February. Walsh remains head of the small, but influential party whose votes can sometimes tip the balance in county elections.
Federal prosecutors allege Walsh stole more than $200,000 from taxpayers between 2011 and 2014 by falsely reporting he was at work when he was golfing, gambling and engaged in political activities. Walsh has maintained that his job as an aide and liaison to Walsh gave him flexible hours and that he was available around the clock.
Wexler also introduced Walsh’s personnel file into the record, in which there are no reprimands of Walsh for not showing up to work, DeMarco acknowledged.
“Nobody ever reported to you he wasn’t, is that correct?” Wexler asked. DeMarco said that was correct.
Eastern District federal prosecutor Catherine Mirabile, trying to counter Wexler’s argument, asked DeMarco whether he knew if the calls to the jail staff were professional or personal or both? He replied he did not.
DeMarco also said that he believed most of the calls between Walsh and himself during the day were work-related, but the nighttime calls were politically related.
But DeMarco conceded that the daytime calls may have occasionally “bled” into some politically related matters.
The government also called two politically prominent witnesses Tuesday to bolster their contention that Walsh was meeting to discuss or take part in political matters during his jail work hours.
Both Richard Schaffer, head of the Democratic Party in Suffolk and Supervisor of the Town of Babylon, and Frank Tinari, deputy head of the Suffolk Conservative Party and head of the Huntington Conservative Party, said they did not discuss sheriff’s business with Walsh at meetings or political events federal prosecutors singled out.
Previously, federal prosecutors called District Court Judge Anthony Senft, a former Town of Islip Councilman, and Congressman Lee Zeldin, to elicit similar testimony.
Prosecutors said in opening statements they would show that he was not working while on jail time. They have introduced Walsh’s personal credit card, phone and bank records to prove that those meetings with Schaffer and Tinari and the others occurred on jail time.
DeMarco, who concluded his testimony Tuesday afternoon, maintained the collective bargaining agreement called for the former lieutenant to work 37 1⁄2 hours a week consecutively at the jail.
DeMarco was asked by prosecutors why his job description to Walsh wasn’t written down and didn’t specifically include saying he was not allowed to golf or gamble or engage in political activities on county time.
DeMarco added that another jail official with a similar title to Walsh understood that he could not golf, gamble or engage in political activities.
DeMarco said Walsh was “considered to be a professional,” and answered no to Mirabile’s questions of “Did you think you had to explain to him he [could not] golf on county time [or] be out at Foxwoods [Casino] on county time?”