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Nov 10, 2017 10:51 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Court Denies Appeal Of Ruling That Led To Guldi's Release

George Guldi at a court appearnce in July.  PRESS FILE
Nov 10, 2017 12:42 PM

The New York State Court of Appeals has denied an appeal by prosecutors to overturn the state appellate division’s decision to dismiss a pair of felonies against George Guldi, meaning that the former Suffolk County lawmaker and now-disbarred attorney could be a free man unless the district attorney’s office intends to retry him on the charges.

According to Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, prosecutors learned this week that their appeal of the appellate court’s ruling from July has been rejected. That ruling overturned Mr. Guldi’s March 2011 conviction on felony grand larceny and insurance fraud charges stemming from the destruction of his former family home in Westhampton Beach nearly a decade earlier.

Mr. Clifford did not comment on the DA’s intentions at this point, though others have speculated that prosecutors retain the option of retrying Mr. Guldi.

Mr. Guldi’s next scheduled court appearance is still set for Wednesday, November 15, at Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead, according to Mr. Clifford.

“A court conference is scheduled on that date,” he wrote in an email on Friday. “I haven’t been advised [if Mr. Guldi’s] bail status has changed.”

If prosecutors decide to retry Mr. Guldi, he would have to be re-arraigned on the two felony counts and face a new trial. The DA’s office, however, could also opt not to retry Mr. Guldi as he had already served six and a half years of a four-to-12 year sentence at the Marcy Correctional Facility in upstate New York prior to being released this summer on his own recognizance as the prosecution’s appeal made its way through the courts.

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.

But that 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 his home.

That decision led to his temporary release from prison this summer and prompted the prosecution to appeal.

Mr. Guldi also submitted a separate 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 has already served the maximum three-year sentence for the mortgage fraud conviction, time he served concurrently with his insurance fraud sentence.

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