The former chief deputy Nassau County Executive has admitted to lying to federal investigators for trying to cover up a $5,000 cash payment he received from a county contractor.
Richard “Rob” Walker pleaded guilty Wednesday to obstruction of justice at Central Islip federal court.
“[Around] August of 2017, I met with an informant working for the government and he informed me of the grand jury investigation,” Walker said while his plea. “I asked if he could not bring up the $5,000.”
Prosecutors said the 43-year-old Hicksville man a accepted the cash in 2014 from a contractor who was performing work for the county. He then tried to persuade the contractor to conceal the existence of the payment from a grand jury when Walker learned federal investigators were looking into the payment.
Walker said he was not aware that the contractor was working with the government at the time they met in a park in Hicksville to discuss the grand jury investigation.
Prosecutors had outlined the evidence that would have been used if the case had gone to trial. It included testimony from the informant, a witness who was instructed to deliver $5,000 to the unnamed informant to influence the testimony, and text messages between defendant and the informant.
Walker, a former New York State Assemblyman who was arrested in 2018, faces up to 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced by Judge Joan M. Azrack, who accepted Walker’s plea to “corruptly impeding or obstructing a grand jury,” as the government had put it.
Walker’s defense attorney, Brian Griffin, estimates from previous guidelines that the sentencing will be between 10 to 16 months.
“There’s a whole host of reasons why someone enters a plea,” Griffin told reporters outside the courthouse. “One is they want to accept responsibility for their actions. Another is … so people can move on with their lives.”
Walker’s former boss, ex-Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, and Mangano’s wife, Linda, were convicted in March of taking bribes and kickbacks following their re-trial at Central Islip federal court.
“Those who swear an oath to serve the public are expected to promote transparency, not obstruct justice,” said Richard Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.