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Suffolk Sheriff Vincent DeMarco testifies at Walsh trial


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)

Suffolk Sheriff Vincent DeMarco testified Monday at the theft and fraud trial of Conservative Party leader Edward Walsh that the former sheriff’s lieutenant had no reason to be working outside the county jail, except for two occasions over an eight-year period.

“No, that wasn’t his job,” DeMarco said repeatedly, or with similar words, when asked by Eastern District federal prosecutor Catherine Mirabile if Walsh was assigned tasks outside his Riverhead office, as Walsh has asserted.

In his first three hours of testimony in federal court in Central Islip, the sheriff denied that part of Walsh’s job was to meet regularly with officials outside the jail, visit department employees who were sick or injured, or attend graduation ceremonies for newly trained officers.

DeMarco also said that Walsh did not have permission to golf, gamble, engage in political activity, or work from home on departmental time, as prosecutors have alleged he did.

The only times Walsh was authorized to work out of the jail was once in February 2006 to meet with a judge with the sheriff was not available, and once in February 2014 to meet with another judge to update the jail’s sex-offender registration policy, DeMarco sad.

One of Walsh’s defense attorneys, William Wexler of North Babylon, noted, however, that the sheriff had appointed the lieutenant as a personal aide to him in 2006 and later that year made him liaison to outside agencies and internal security and gang intelligence.

When Wexler asked if the sheriff ever put Walsh’s duties in writing, DeMarco replied that he had explained the jobs to him “verbally.”

Defense attorneys have said Walsh’s normal job duties took him outside the office, and he had great flexibility in his work schedule and with whom he met.

Wexler’s cross-examination of DeMarco is expected to continue Tuesday,

Before DeMarco began to testify, prosecutors called two other witnesses about their meetings with Walsh — Anthony Senft, a state district court Judge and former Town of Islip Councilman, and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).

“I don’t recall having a conversation with the defendant regarding business with the Suffolk County sheriff,” Zeldin said, adding that meetings on his calendars with Walsh included fundraisers on Long Island and New York City and meetings at diners and the Boston Market parking lot in Shirley.

Senft testified about meeting with Walsh at Conservative Party fundraisers and golf outings at which he did not recall discussing any sheriff related business.

Mirabile and prosecutor Raymond Tierney also called an executive of Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut to testify about the more than half a dozen times in recent years that Walsh spent hours gambling at the poker tables.

Prosecutors called Senft, Zeldin and the Foxwood executive as government witnesses to support their case that he was in locations away from the sheriff’s department when he supposedly was being paid by the county.

DeMarco said he began look into Walsh’s time sheets when he saw a 2014 newspaper article saying that the lieutenant had been in Shirley at a shareholders meeting of a company named Interceptor Ignition Interlocks. This was followed by Freedom of Information Law requests for Walsh’s time sheets, DeMarco said.

The 2014 story appeared in Newsday, which then made the FOIL request. But Spatt has ruled that any mention of Newsday’s involvement to the jury would be too prejudicial.

DeMarco also testified that he suspected Walsh was playing golf on county time, and asked, without success, both Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota and County Attorney Dennis Brown to issue subpoenas for Walsh’s golf records.

Eventually, DeMarco testified that he pursued the matter with federal prosecutors, going to the Brooklyn office of the U.S. Attorneyfor the Eastern District.

Robert Clifford, the spokesman for Spota, said in a statement: “It was Sheriff DeMarco who was frustrating the district attorney in the investigation of Mr. Walsh.” Clifford has said DeMarco provided no information to Spota to support a prosecution of Walsh.

County spokesman Justin Meyers said in a statement that Brown researched the issue after DeMarco’s request and “concluded that his office had no authority to issue such subpoenas.”

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