Suffolk County has filed a lawsuit to recoup $444,491 from ex-county Conservative chairman Edward Walsh for salary and overtime he accepted illegally as a corrections lieutenant when he was golfing, gambling and politicking, Coun ty Executive Steve Bellone said.
“This guy stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from county taxpayers and we want it back,” Bellone said Wednesday. “Enough is enough.”
The county lawsuit, filed Wednesday in state Supreme Court, comes days after court papers from Walsh’s lawyers disclosed details of a federal pre-sentencing memo that more than doubled the $200,000 prosecutors said at trial that Walsh had stolen. Walsh was convicted last March of cheating the county.
According to county’s complaint, Walsh “received public monies to which he was not legally or contractually entitled” and the county is “obligated . . . to recover that money.”
The suit said it would be “an inequitable and unjust enrichment for . . . Edward Mr. Walsh Jr. to retain fraudulently obtained salary.”
In the lawsuit, the county also claims that Walsh amassed $47,948 in pay for unused sick and vacation time and that Suffolk should be able to keep that money as part of the overall recovery.
Bellone has written to county Comptroller John M. Kennedy, asking him to withhold Walsh’s separation pay.
Kennedy said the money was sequestered on the advice of state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who determined that Walsh was not entitled to his state pension at age 50 because he did not reach 25 years of service after improperly claimed hours were deducted.
“We have not paid one plugged nickel or dime,” said Kennedy. But Kennedy said Walsh used much of his vacation time before leaving the county payroll and estimated he only has about $20,000 due in separation pay.
William Wexler, Walsh’s attorney, said he has not seen the county’s suit. But Wexler said restitution is to be determined by the judge who handled the case, U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Spatt, as part of sentencing.
The pre-sentencing me mo not only increased the amount of Walsh’s theft, but also said Walsh tried to influence the testimony of three correction officers, only one of whom testified at trial.
The prosecutor’s memo was aimed at increasing the range of Walsh’s potential sentence to 37 to 46 months, rather than 24 to 30 months under federal sentencing guidelines, which are not mandatory.
Wexler and Leonard Lato, Walsh’s other attorney, dispute the memo and have asked Spatt for a hearing. They said testimony at trial put the theft at $200,000, and that Walsh did not seek to obstruct justice in his pretrial conversations the correction officers, who were potential witnesses.