A federal judge Thursday rescheduled the criminal trial of former Chief Deputy Nassau County Executive Rob Walker for the second time, partly because of the unrelated criminal trial of his former boss, ex-Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano.
U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack in Central Islip ruled that Walker's trial on obstruction of justice and lying to FBI agents will start on April 29.
Walker is accused of taking $5,000 in cash from an unnamed Nassau County contractor at a 2014 University of Notre Dame football game, according to federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors said that when Walker learned of a then-ongoing federal investigation into possible corruption in the awarding of county contracts, he attempted “to convince the contractor to conceal the existence of the $5,000 payment from the grand jury.”
Walker gave the $5,000 back to the contractor in a Hicksville park. But the meeting was watched by FBI agents, and when Walker left, the contractor gave the money to the agents, prosecutors said.
Later, when questioned by FBI agents, Walker allegedly lied and said he did not get money from the contractor, prosecutors said.
Walker has denied the charges, and his attorney Brian Griffin has said his client was “a dedicated public servant” and “There is no relation back to the contribution for any additional services for the county…This is a 20-plus year friend who Mr. Walker took a personal trip with.”
Griffin and Eastern District federal prosecutor Artie McConnell declined to comment after Thursday’s brief hearing.
Walker’s trial had originally been scheduled to begin Sept. 17 before the Oct. 9 start of the retrial of Mangano and his wife, Linda Mangano, on unrelated corruption charges.
But in July, Azrack -- who is presiding over both the Manganos' and Walker's trials -- said her calendar was too crowded to try the Walker case. She rescheduled it for Jan. 7.
But a few days before the Manganos' retrial, Azrack postponed their trial until January because federal prosecutors turned over to the couple’s defense what Edward Mangano’s attorney Kevin Keating said was “a massive amount of previously undisclosed material.”
The Manganos' trial has since been rescheduled for Jan. 22.
The new Mangano material was more than 2,000 FBI wiretaps on the phone of former restaurateur, Harendra Singh, the government’s star witness in the case of the couple. Some of the calls were in Hindi and the defense needed time to translate them, a source said.
The Manganos' first trial lasted 12 weeks and ended in a mistrial in May. Edward Mangano is charged with seven felonies, including federal program bribery, honest-services wire fraud, extortion and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Linda Mangano is charged with five counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI.