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Activist calls on Conservatives to oust Walsh as Suffolk leader

Edward Walsh, Suffolk County Conservative Party chairman, attends

Edward Walsh, Suffolk County Conservative Party chairman, attends a reception in support of Anthony S. Senft Jr.'s campaign for New York State Senate, on March 19, 2014. Credit: Newsday

The head of Parents for Megan's Law and the Crime Victims Center Friday called on state and local leaders of the Conservative Party to oust Edward Walsh as Suffolk Conservative chairman and urged local candidates not to take the minor party's endorsement until he steps down.

Laura Ahearn, the group's executive director, referred to Walsh's sentencing to probation for a misdemeanor sex offense as a college student. Ahearn said she also has "deep concerns" about reports that Walsh did not disclose the arrest on his application to the sheriff's department, where now is a lieutenant.

"It would be an embarrassment to the people of Suffolk County and the members of the Conservative Party if he were to remain as the Conservative Party chairman or be allowed to continue in a position in the jail where he can have access to female inmates," Ahearn said.

Newsday and News 12 reported June 5 that Walsh was arrested in 1984 while a University of Maryland student and sentenced to 12 months' probation in a misdemeanor sex offense. He did not disclose the arrest on his application to the sheriff's department, as is required.

Neither Walsh nor his lawyer, Frank Tinari, returned calls for comment Friday. Tinari has said the Maryland charge was "ultimately dismissed, sealed and expunged." Tinari said Walsh's Suffolk hiring application "was thoroughly vetted, and he has served without incident for 24 years."

Michael Long, state Conservative chairman, said he "does not know all the facts" concerning the incident. He said he spoke by telephone with Ahearn and later had a "long private conversation" with Walsh "over the problems that seem to be erupting."

Long added he talked to Walsh as a colleague "about a number of options" and expects to hear back from him by early next week. Long declined to detail the options.

Long said he has no power to remove Walsh, who is elected by party committee members in Suffolk.

Walsh, who for the past eight years, has led the state's largest county Conservative organization, is up for re-election as chairman in September.

Walsh on Wednesday was suspended from his sheriff's department job for 30 days without pay. Sheriff's chief of staff Michael Sharkey declined to say what prompted the suspension, but said an investigation into whether corrections employees billed for time they did not work is continuing.

Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, said he would review Ahearn's request. John Jay LaValle, Suffolk GOP chairman, did not return calls for comment.With David M. Schwartz

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