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George Guldi's second trial delayed

George Guldi leaves the courtroom. (Feb. 8, 2011)

George Guldi leaves the courtroom. (Feb. 8, 2011) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The second of former Suffolk legislator George Guldi's three trials has been delayed because a co-defendant had to change defense attorneys on the day jury selection was to have begun.

Guldi, who's already serving 4 to 12 years for his insurance fraud conviction, faces two trials on mortgage fraud. The first of those, with co-defendant Brandon Lisi, 37, of Dix Hills, was to have started Tuesday in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead. Instead it got delayed when Lisi's attorney, Randy Zelin, was replaced Tuesday by Eric Naiburg.

The complex state case, with two related federal cases, was too much for Zelin to handle on his own, Naiburg said.

"It's taken an emotional toll on him," Naiburg said. Zelin declined to say why he was leaving the case, but said he'd continue to represent Lisi in the federal cases.

At the last court date, Zelin argued strenuously that he didn't have enough time to prepare for trial. Tuesday, prosecutor Thalia Stavrides objected when Naiburg asked Suffolk County Court judge James F.X. Doyle for five weeks to get up to speed.

"He knows this case, I would submit, as well as Mr. Zelin," Stavrides said. Naiburg said he was only superficially familiar with the case.

Stavrides reacted angrily when Doyle granted Naiburg's request to start July 25, noting that she has a vacation scheduled for later in the summer. Doyle told her sometimes vacations have to be rescheduled. Stavrides interrupted Doyle to ask if Zelin was still going to be involved in other aspects of the case.

Afterward, Naiburg, like Zelin, expressed concern about his client getting a fair trial seated next to Guldi, who is representing himself. In the insurance fraud trial, Doyle struggled to get Guldi to observe proper courtroom procedure.

Tuesday, Guldi said nothing and Doyle let him know he appreciated it.

"You're looking good and you're quiet," Doyle told him. Guldi grinned in response.

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