Rob Walker, who served as chief deputy to former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, is expected to plead guilty in connection with obstruction of a federal investigation into the granting of county contracts, according to sources familiar with his case.
Walker, 44, a former Republican state assemblyman from Hicksville, was indicted in February 2018 on charges of obstruction of justice and lying to FBI agents. He pleaded not guilty in federal court in Central Islip.
His indictment came more than two years after Walker confirmed while testifying in the corruption trial of former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos that federal prosecutors were investigating his role in county contracts that went to political campaign contributors. Skelos and his son, Adam, retried last July, were found guilty of bribery, conspiracy and extortion charges.
At the time of his indictment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office described the felony charges against Walker as the result of a federal investigation into whether Nassau public officials took money from county contractors and if those actions were concealed.
Walker has been free on a $200,000 bond that his wife signed and backed up with their home.
A hearing for Walker to enter a plea in the case was scheduled for Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge Joan Azrack, according to federal court records.
Walker’s attorney, Brian Griffin of Garden City, and John Marzulli, spokesman for Eastern District federal prosecutors, declined to comment.
Prosecutors said in a bail letter that the case against Walker centers around a $5,000 cash payment an unnamed contractor allegedly gave him in October 2014 after a University of Notre Dame home football game.
They said Walker accepted that person’s invitation to the game and also took the $5,000 from the contractor before returning to New York.
When Walker learned of a federal investigation into potential corruption in Nassau County government, including circumstances surrounding the payment, he spoke to the contractor several times “in an attempt to convince the contractor to conceal the existence of the $5,000 payment from the grand jury,” according to court records.
Further, Walker urged the contractor to provide “a false explanation” to the grand jury about “both the character of the payment and the reasons for the payment,” prosecutors said.
Walker gave back the $5,000 by arranging to meet the contractor in a Hicksville park, according to the bail letter. But prosecutors said the FBI had surveillance of their meeting, in which Walker gave the contractor an envelope with $5,000 in it — an envelope that was then turned over to law enforcement officials.
Prosecutors have alleged Walker made false statements when the FBI interviewed him about the payment, including a denial he got any cash payments from the contractor.
Griffin said at Walker’s arraignment that the government’s allegation, “even as accepted at face value,” was “not illegal conduct.”
The defense attorney added: “There is no tieback. There is no relation back to a contribution for any additional services for the county. … This is a 20-plus-year friend whom Mr. Walker took a personal trip with. And the U.S. Supreme Court has been clear on this issue. It is not illegal to do that.”
Before his role as Mangano’s top aide, Walker served in the State Assembly after winning a 2005 special election.
He previously was deputy parks commissioner in the Town of Oyster Bay after working as an assistant to then-Town Supervisor John Venditto.
Walker, now a consultant, is the son of Rose Marie Walker, a Republican Nassau legislator and former Town of Oyster Bay councilwoman.
Mangano and his wife, Linda, are awaiting sentencing after their conviction in March on unrelated corruption charges.