Former Suffolk Legis. George Guldi was released Tuesday from Marcy Correctional Facility in upstate Oneida County after an appellate division last week threw out a 2011 conviction on grand larceny and insurance fraud charges.
The Appellate Division, Second Department, found that during a March 2011 trial, the Suffolk County Court had “erred” by not dismissing a prospective juror who worked for AIG, the insurance company that allegedly was defrauded by Guldi after a house fire. The panel ordered the case back to County Court for a new trial.
The appellate ruling had no effect on Guldi’s guilty pleas on separate charges involving an $82 million mortgage scam. Patrick Brady, state corrections spokesman, said the disbarred Westhampton Beach lawyer had already served nearly 6 years, the maximum sentence on those crimes.
Brady said Guldi was released into the custody of Suffolk sheriff deputies, who transported him back for a new arraignment so he can be retried on the grand larceny and insurance fraud charges. Sheriffs officials said he was to remain Tuesday night in county jail facilities until his court appearance.
Robert Clifford, district attorney spokesman, said Guldi will undergo a new arraignment Wednesday in County Court in Riverhead before State Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen. He declined to comment on whether prosecutors will seek a new trial or what their position on bail is.
“I’m filled with joy,” said Dan Welden, a Sag Harbor artist and longtime Guldi friend. “I don’t know what he did or didn’t do, but I don’t give up on my friends, and neither does he. He’s helped so many people and he would continue doing that.”
Guldi was unsuccessful in trying to throw out his separate guilty pleas on 34 counts of grand larceny and scheme to defraud in connection with what had been described by prosecutors as the largest mortgage fraud ring in Suffolk history. The appellate court found that he had not been induced to plead guilty.
Guldi, who served as a Democratic county legislator from Westhampton Beach between 1995 and 2003, was serving up to 12 years in prison at Marcy Correctional Facility, according to court records. His next parole date had been set for August 2018 before the appellate ruling. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He represented himself in the appeal.
Guldi had been convicted by a jury on charges of grand larceny in the second degree and insurance fraud in the third degree associated with receiving more than $850,000 in insurance proceeds from a fire that gutted his home.
During jury selection, one juror disclosed that she worked for AIG. “We note that, in response to the defendant’s questions, the prospective juror did not provide a completely unequivocal assurance that she could be fair and impartial,” the appellate ruling stated. “Thereafter, the County Court denied the defendant’s for-cause challenge without asking the prospective juror any questions about her employment at AIG or how it might affect her ability to serve as a juror.”