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Sep 13, 2017 2:05 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Guldi Must Wait Another Month For Appeal Decision

George Guldi at the criminal court building in Riverside in July.
Sep 13, 2017 3:27 PM

Dressed in a pinstripe suit and red polka dot bow-tie, and with freshly-shorn hair, former Suffolk County Legislator George Guldi returned to Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Wednesday to learn that a decision had not yet been made as to whether he might have to return to jail on felony grand larceny and insurance fraud charges.

After eight weeks of freedom, the most he’s had since his imprisonment in 2011, he will now enjoy four more weeks as he waits for the appellate court’s decision, which is scheduled for October 17.

If the prosecution’s appeal is denied on October 17—meaning his conviction would remain overturned by the higher court—Mr. Guldi could be re-arraigned on two felony counts and face a new trial, according to previous statements of intent from Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office.

However, the D.A.’s office also could opt not to re-try Mr. Guldi if the appeal is denied, due to the passage of years since he was originally convicted and the length of the sentence he has already served—six and a half years of a four-to-12-year sentence at Marcy Correctional Facility in upstate New York.

If the prosecution’s appeal is upheld and the original conviction is affirmed, Mr. Guldi likely will go back to jail for an undetermined length of time.

“All I/we can say is that we are waiting to hear if the Court of Appeals will be granting leave to hear the case,” his attorney, Michael Scotto, said in an email before Wednesday’s appearance.

Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the D.A.’s office, declined to comment.

Mr. Guldi was convicted in March 2011 of misappropriating more than $860,000 in insurance money that was supposed to be used to rebuild his home on Griffing Avenue in Westhampton Beach after a fire.

The conviction was thrown out after his appeal was upheld; the appeal stated that despite his pre-trial challenge, one juror who remained on the case was an employee of the American International Insurance Company, or AIG, the company that supplied the funds Mr. Guldi was supposed to use to rebuild. That decision led to his temporary release from prison. The prosecution appealed the court’s decision on July 12 to overturn the conviction.

Mr. Guldi submitted another appeal at the time, attempting to have nearly three dozen counts of intent to defraud and grand larceny dismissed on the same grounds. But the appellate court denied that appeal, saying he had waived his right to appeal those charges when he accepted a plea deal while being prosecuted on a separate $82 million mortgage fraud scheme that targeted dozens of homes, most on the East End.

Mr. Guldi and Mr. Scotto stood before Judge Mark Cohen on Wednesday for less than five minutes as the judge told them that the decision was still pending since the final papers were submitted on August 25 to Judge Eugene Fahey of the New York Court of Appeals. The judge directed them to return to his courtroom on October 17.

Mr. Guldi has also already served the maximum three-year sentence for the mortgage fraud conviction concurrently with the four-to-12-year sentence for the March 2011 insurance fraud that is the subject of the pending judgment.

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