Ex-Suffolk Conservative Party Chair Ed Walsh Sentenced to 2 Years

Ed Walsh Trial
Ed Walsh leaving court on Monday, March 21, 2016. (Timothy Bolger/Long Island Press)

Ex-Suffolk County Conservative Party Chairman Edward Walsh was sentenced Tuesday to two years in federal prison for golfing, gambling and politicking while he was on the clock at his county jail job.

Walsh, a former corrections lieutenant, had been convicted of wire fraud and theft of government services following a three-week-long trial at Central Islip federal court in the spring of 2016. Judge Arthur Spatt also ordered Walsh to pay $202,225 in restitution for time he was paid for while not at work.

“What Walsh did was steal taxpayer money, plain and simple,” said William Sweeney, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York office. “He misrepresented the hours he worked with the intent of deceiving his employer, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s office…We certainly expect more from our public servants.”

Prosecutors said the 51-year-old East Islip man, who retired shortly before the trial began, routinely left work to golf or conduct party business between 2011 and ’14. His defense attorneys argued that he was free to come and go as he pleased and make up the hours later.

The trial featured testimony from a who’s who of local political elite, including Suffolk County Democratic Committee Chairman Richard Schaffer, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), Suffolk County Judge Anthony Senft and Frank Tinari, who succeeded Walsh was head of the Suffolk Conservative Party, which boasts the largest membership of the influential minor party statewide.

The prosecution’s star witness was Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, Walsh’s former boss who Walsh helped get elected since DeMarco is a Conservative. DeMarco testified that when he learned Walsh was being paid for time he was supposed to be at the jail, he launched an intern investigation and presented the findings to Suffolk County District Thomas Spota, who declined to prosecute. DeMarco then took the case to federal authorities, who had him indicted in 2015.

Federal prosecutors made their case by comparing Walsh’s time sheets to his billing records and cell phone data that indicated he was not at the county jail in Riverhead when he was on the clock. The jury convicted him after about an hour of deliberations.

Spatt additionally ordered Walsh to forfeit $245,811 and sentenced him to three years of post-release supervision.