A federal judge set a new sentencing date for Rob Walker before arguments Thursday about whether to consider what prosecutors called other "relevant conduct" when punishing the former chief deputy for ex-Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano.
Walker, a 46-year-old former state assemblyman from Hicksville, pleaded guilty in 2019 to obstruction of justice after an indictment connected to a probe of a $5,000 payment he took from a county contractor.
Prosecutors want U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack to send Walker to prison for four years when she sentences him on Dec. 7 at 2 p.m.
Prosecutors raised four examples of alleged conduct that wasn't part of his criminal case but that they say show he repeatedly abused his public office as Nassau’s second most powerful government official.
Walker behaved "like a big character on 'The Sopranos,'" Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell said Thursday during a hearing in federal court.
But Walker’s attorney, Brian Griffin, said a judge shouldn’t be free "to wallop" a defendant with more punishment for uncharged allegations. He has asked for probation for Walker.
Prosecutors told the judge Walker received hundreds of thousands of dollars from two political organizations, Friends of Ed Mangano and the Hicksville Republican Club, to pay personal credit card bills. That included receiving more than $250,000 from Friends of Ed Mangano to pay off personal charges and providing no receipts, according to McConnell. He noted that such charges included wine shipments from California.
"Have you ever heard the word sketchy?" Azrack said Thursday about the wine.
But Griffin said Walker "shouldn’t go to prison for four years on ‘sketchy,’" and the wine was used in campaign gift baskets.
Walker didn’t have a Mangano campaign credit card and paid for political expenses on his personal card before providing records and getting reimbursed, according to the defense.
Prosecutors also want the judge to consider the banking records of Walker's former county special assistant, suggesting she gave him kickbacks from county contracts she won after he helped her set up a consulting business in 2012 — an allegation the defense denies.
Prosecutors also say a printing company official told federal investigators Walker solicited $12,000 in payments after Walker, while volunteering for an aspiring congressman, hired the printer to do $125,000 in business for the campaign. The defense said the money was a consulting fee and emails back that up.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office also wants Azrack to consider what McConnell said "appears to be" a pay-to-play gratuity Walker received in connection with a Superstorm Sandy-related contract involving VIP Splash Waterways Recovery Group Inc. that authorities investigated. But the defense denied that allegation and said no charges were filed.
Newsday previously reported the company was incorporated just days before the county solicited bids, and the company contributed to Walker's Hicksville political club the day he signed an $8.2 million contract amendment.
The 2018 indictment against Walker centered on a $5,000 payment a contractor gave Walker in 2014 after a University of Notre Dame football game. Records unsealed last week identify that contractor as Anthony Gulino, a Ridge businessman who was a cooperating prosecution witness when Mangano and his wife, Linda, were tried in a separate corruption case. The Manganos await sentencing.
Gulino’s lawyer declined to comment.