The Suffolk County Conservative Party chairman was arrested Wednesday for allegedly stealing about $80,000 in wages for hours he did not work at his job in the county sheriff’s office, authorities said.
Edward Walsh, who leads the largest Conservative Party chapter in New York State, was charged at Central Islip federal court with scheme to defraud.
“Mr. Walsh shook down county government for hours he never worked,” said George Venizelos, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York office. “In reality, he was often on the ninth hole practicing his putting.”
Federal prosecutors said the 48-year-old East Islip man, who worked as a high-level corrections officer in addition to his party chairmanship, falsely claimed to have worked hours at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office while he was instead golfing or gambling at Foxwoods Casino, or performing work on behalf of the Suffolk County Conservative Party between 2011 and 2014.
Walsh allegedly lied to FBI agents by claiming that he worked flex time or was on the telephone regarding his work at the Sheriff’s office even while at the golf course, according to investigators.
Walsh’s boss, Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, who was elected to his position on the Conservative Party line, referred the findings of an internal investigation to the FBI, the sheriff said.
“Protecting the integrity of the Sheriff’s Office and the reputation of the hardworking men and women of this office is a high priority,” DeMarco said. “Violation of the public trust by a sworn officer flies in the face of the oath of office and is inexcusable.”
Suffolk County Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley), chair of the public safety committee, said she asked the county Office Labor Relations to immediately dismiss Walsh.
“As law enforcement officials we hold these employees to higher standards,” she said. “Mr. Walsh’s actions have tainted a Sheriff’s Department that I know to be staffed with good, hardworking officers that conduct themselves with the utmost integrity. The termination of Mr. Walsh will allow the department to move forward and begin to restore the trust of our residents.”
Walsh’s Babylon-based attorney, William Wexler, was not immediately available for comment. Walsh is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday before Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson.
Michael Long, chairman of the state Conservative Party, told the Press: “We’ll let the justice system play out.”