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Nov 15, 2017 12:59 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

DA To Retry Guldi On Felony Larceny And Insurance Fraud Charges

George Guldi at a court appearnce in July.  PRESS FILE
Nov 15, 2017 1:17 PM

After several months of freedom and the possibility that he would never see the inside of another courtroom, former Suffolk County lawmaker George Guldi learned on Wednesday that he must return to Suffolk County Criminal Court on January 2, 2018, so he can be tried a second time on felony grand larceny and insurance fraud charges.

The decision to re-try the now-disbarred attorney was somewhat unexpected, as Mr. Guldi had already served more than six years of a four-to-12-year sentence at an upstate prison prior to being released on his own recognizance this July when a state appellate court threw out his conviction on a technicality. It comes on the heels of the New York State Court of Appeals denying an appeal filed by prosecutors this summer to overturn the prior decision and reinstate the conviction.

Prosecutors only learned last week that their appeal had been denied, forcing them to either re-try Mr. Guldi or drop the charges altogether.

Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the DA’s office, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

It was not immediately clear if Mr. Guldi, who was allowed to leave the Riverhead courtroom with his attorney, Michael Scotto, immediately after Wednesday’s hearing, would be ordered back to jail as he awaits the start of his second trial. Mr. Guldi, who did not speak during his brief appearance, has been free since the Appellate Division dismissed his conviction this past summer.

Mr. Scotto also did not immediately respond to requests for 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. Mr. Guldi, who represented himself during the proceedings, appealed his conviction, arguing that one juror—an employee of the insurance company that had sued him over the misappropriation of the funding—was allowed to remain on the jury despite his pre-trial objections.

The appellate court, in its decision, agreed with Mr. Guldi’s argument, ordering that the conviction be dismissed—a move that prompted an immediate appeal by prosecutors.

On Wednesday, Judge Mark Cohen read out the DA’s decision, adding that there will be an interim discussion between the plaintiffs and defendants on Wednesday, November 29.

Mr. Guldi had 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 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 Wednesday’s court proceedings.

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