Federal prosecutors on Wednesday said that they anticipate the trial of Rob Walker, the ex-chief deputy of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, to last a week.
Walker, 43, of Hicksville, is accused of obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI in connection with taking $5,000 from an unidentified contractor who did work for the county, and then returning the money as part of an attempted cover-up. He has pleaded not guilty.
Eastern District federal prosecutors Catherine Mirabile and Artie McConnell made the disclosures concerning Walker’s trial at a brief status conference at the federal District Court in Central Islip. They told U.S. District Court Judge Joan Azrack that they expect to call six to seven witnesses during the trial.
Walker’s attorney, Brian Griffin of Garden City, said he planned to file a number of pretrial motions to have government evidence suppressed. He did not elaborate on his comments.
Azrack said she planned to hold Walker’s trial starting Sept. 17.
Mirabile and McConnell declined to comment after the hearing, as did Walker.
After the hearing, Griffin said, “The case is now moving to trial….But hopefully the trial will not be necessary."
The conference took place in the same courtroom where Azrack plans to hold the next status conference in the case of Mangano and his wife, Linda, whose trial in connection with political corruption charges resulted in a mistrial in June. Prosecutors have said they plan to retry the Manganos on all charges.
Azrack has said she planned to set October as the possible new trial date for the Manganos.
Before a mistrial was declared in the Manganos’ case, former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, their co-defendant, was acquitted. The charges against Walker are not related to those that were lodged against the Manganos or Venditto.
Walker pleaded not guilty in February to the obstruction and lying charges in which he was accused of accepting $5,000 in cash from an unnamed county contractor. The money was allegedly given to Walker in October 2014 at a University of Notre Dame football game in Indiana, which the contractor had invited Walker to attend, according to the prosecutors.
However, when Walker later heard of a federal investigation into possible corruption into Nassau County government, he contacted the person a number of times “in an attempt to convince the contractor to conceal the existence of the payment from the grand jury,” according to prosecutors.
In addition, prosecutors said that Walker asked the contractor to give “a false explanation” to the grand jury about “both the character of the payment and the reasons for the payment.”
Eventually, Walker returned the $5,000 in an envelope at a 2017 meeting with the contractor in a Hicksville park as FBI agents surveilled the scene. Afterward, the contractor gave the agents an envelope containing the $5,000, the prosecutors said.
Prosecutors said that when Walker was later interviewed by the FBI, he made false statements about the payment, and denied he had received any cash from the contractor.