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Edward Walsh pleads not guilty in brief court appearance

Edward Walsh leaves federal court in Central Islip

Edward Walsh leaves federal court in Central Islip on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. Credit: James Carbone

Edward Walsh, the influential head of the Suffolk Conservative Party, pleaded not guilty at arraignment in federal court in Central Islip Wednesday to charges of theft of government funds and wire fraud.

The charges grew out of Walsh's other job as a lieutenant in the Suffolk County Sheriff's Department.

According to an FBI complaint, Walsh collected more than $80,000 between January 2011 and April 2014 by falsely claiming he was working for the department when he was golfing, gambling or engaged in political activities.

When Walsh was indicted on the charges three weeks ago, federal prosecutors also said they would seek forfeiture of the money Walsh collected for allegedly filing false time and overtime slips. Since his initial arrest in the case in January based on a complaint by agents, Walsh has been released on $50,000 bond.

Magistrate Arlene Lindsay continued the bond, releasing Walsh after the plea. Walsh was suspended without pay after his arrest in January.

"My client has done nothing wrong. He's worked for everything he has been paid for. This case is over the top," said Walsh's attorney, William Wexler of Babylon. "It's an attempt by the government to obtain information about supposed political corruption which he doesn't have."

Wexler said his client's political activities are simply typical, routine practices and do not involve anything illegal. The attorney said Walsh plans to vigorously defend himself.

Walsh's next court date was set for April 2.

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