Suffolk County Conservative Party Chairman Ed Walsh, an ex-correction lieutenant, told internal affairs investigators that the district attorney wouldn’t prosecute him for collecting pay for hours he didn’t work, according to testimony.
Walsh made the statement when he was informed of the probe by Robert Kanas, the former internal affairs bureau commander at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office, and by another investigator, Kanas testified Wednesday at Walsh’s fraud trial at Central Islip federal court.
“Lieutenant Walsh seemed to be a little upset, asked why it was happening and stated, ‘If you’re worried about the other agency across the river, they’re not doing anything,'” Kanas, who has since retired, told the jury. The prosecution witness added, “I took it to mean the district attorney’s office.”
Federal prosecutors have alleged that Walsh effectively stole more than $80,000 in salary for hours he was actually golfing, gambling at Foxwoods Casino and conducting political business between 2011 and 2014. Attorneys for Walsh, who retired shortly before the trial began, have argued that Walsh was free to come and go as he pleased and make up the hours later.
Kanas was investigating Walsh at the direction of Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, who testified over two days this week. DeMarco had told the court that when he brought the case against Walsh to Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, the DA was uninterested in pursuing it. Spota previously issued a statement blaming Walsh for thwarting county prosecutors’ attempts to investigate Walsh.
Also testifying Wednesday were other correction officers and deputy sheriffs who work at the Suffolk County jail in Riverhead. They mostly described how they all were required to work their 37½-hour work week to be paid and how they used the main entrance to enter and exit the facility, not a dirt road that investigators claim they saw Walsh use to leave through the back of the correctional facility.
Other Suffolk Conservative Party officials—this time, Frank Profeta, co-chair of the party’s Brookhaven committee and owner of The Emporium in Patchogue—testified about seeing Walsh at various political events.
The remainder of Wednesday’s hearing featured testimony of Eduardo Orellana, an expert witness who used cell site data—phone billing information and Verizon records of Walsh’s calls—to create maps showing where Walsh was on certain dates. Orellana said he was unable to show precisely where Walsh was like a GPS would, but he could use the available information to narrow down Walsh’s location to within a few miles of the closest cell towers that communicated with his phone. Some days Walsh appeared to be in New York City or Connecticut, other days his phone never even pinged a tower in Riverhead.
Under cross-examination, Orellana said that it was possible that data suggesting Walsh may have been at golf courses on certain days could also mean he was in the area around the golf course and not actually on the fairways. Walsh’s defense team suggested they may call an expert witness of their own to counter Orellana’s testimony.
Prosecutors said they have two more witnesses to call before they rest their case. The defense will then have an opportunity to call their witnesses.