Suffolk Legis. Kate Browning (WFP-Shirley) has urged the county attorney to move forward with a disciplinary hearing against Edward Walsh, the Suffolk sheriff's lieutenant and county Conservative chairman, regardless of a delay in his federal trial.
A federal judge this month set a March trial date for Walsh, who is accused of collecting more than $80,000 from the sheriff's department at times he was playing golf, gambling or engaged in political activities.
"Suffolk County taxpayers should know that any misconduct by an employee of Suffolk County is taken very seriously, and dealt with in a timely manner without prejudice," Browning wrote in a letter to County Attorney Dennis Brown.
Walsh has denied the charges and pleaded not guilty. He has been reassigned to the commissary by Sheriff Vincent DeMarco. DeMarco in 2014 moved to terminate Walsh.
Walsh, 49, has worked for the county for 24.65 years, according to the state comptroller's office. Once he gets 25 years of service early next year, he can collect his full pension. If he retires or is fired before then, he would have to wait until he is 62 to get his full pension, or else collect a lower pension amount.
A felony conviction would not affect a pension, the state comptroller's office said.
Brown and Jennifer McNamara, county director of labor relations, said they could not comment on a specific personnel case. But McNamara said the county generally complies with prosecutors' requests so as not to jeopardize criminal cases. "If someone would suggest that we shouldn't comply with the request, that would be surprising to me," she said.
Federal prosecutors originally requested an initial delay in the hearing, which was set to begin in September. A spokeswoman with the Eastern District U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment.
William Wexler, attorney for Walsh, said typically prosecutors would not want to move forward with a termination hearing before the criminal trial. He also said a county hearing could raise constitutional concerns, including the right to prevent self-incrimination.