Former Suffolk County Legislator George Guldi, who is facing numerous charges related to an alleged $82 million mortgage fraud scheme, will be representing himself now that his attorney has withdrawn from the case, citing Mr. Guldi’s inability to pay him, according to Suffolk County Court records.
In subsequent court filings earlier this month, Mr. Guldi, 57, of Westhampton Beach, alleged that prosecutors “concocted” charges in order to justify the seizure of his assets and force him into economic hardship and, ultimately, a plea deal.
Mr. Guldi’s former attorney, Paul Gianelli of the Hauppauge firm Reynolds, Caronia, Gianelli, Hagney, La Pinta & Quatela, LLP, withdrew from the case on July 15, telling the court that Mr. Guldi was not able to pay the $165,000 he owed him because prosecutors froze Mr. Guldi’s assets. So far, Mr. Guldi has paid only $10,000 of a total fee of $175,000, according to Mr. Gianelli.
“At this point, no plea agreement has been reached, and I cannot afford to prepare for and commence a trial based upon the $10,000 compensation I have thus far received on these matters,” the lawyer wrote.
Mr. Gianelli did not return a call to his law office seeking comment on Tuesday. When reached at his own Westhampton Beach law office on Tuesday, Mr. Guldi, a practicing attorney who is free on a $500,000 bond, declined to comment.
In a June 22 decision, Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge William B. Rebolini denied a request by Mr. Guldi to access $165,000 of his frozen assets to pay Mr. Gianelli. In his decision, Judge Rebolini said Mr. Guldi had not proven that the money was not related to his alleged crime. To let Mr. Guldi access the funds, Judge Rebolini continued, “would be to permit the alleged perpetrator of the crimes in question to invade what may be ill gotten profits (assets) to provide himself with the best possible criminal defense in the region (the Court taking note of Mr. Gianelli’s reputation as one of the area’s best criminal defense attorneys).”
On Monday, August 16, Mr. Guldi notified the court that he would appeal the decision.
Judge Rebolini denied a similar request by Mr. Guldi on February 25, writing that Mr. Guldi failed to include with his request a copy of a signed agreement with Mr. Gianelli.
Mr. Guldi’s assets were frozen in April 2009, following his arrest that March. In August 2009, Mr. Guldi was indicted on more than 100 charges related to an $82 million mortgage fraud scheme that targeted properties on the East End. Sixteen other defendants were also named in the indictment.
The charges against Mr. Guldi include multiple counts of first-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree conspiracy, both felonies, and third-degree money laundering, a misdemeanor.
In a court filing on August 9 of this year, the date of his last conference with Judge James F.X. Doyle in Suffolk County Court, Mr. Guldi wrote that the frozen assets he sought to access are not related to the alleged mortgage fraud, but were instead part of an insurance payment he received after a November 2008 blaze gutted his Westhampton Beach home, and that prosecutors had “no justification or excuse” to hold them in relation to the mortgage fraud charges.
“This fraudulent seizure by the district attorney has been for the purpose of depriving me of my counsel to compel my capitulation and plea to false charges,” he wrote.
A spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment on Tuesday.
In a separate court proceeding in September 2009, almost a year after the fire, a grand jury indicted Mr. Guldi on charges of third-degree insurance fraud, second-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and second-degree forgery, all felonies, related to the insurance payment. Prosecutors said Mr. Guldi spent most of the $853,000 insurance payment and forged the endorsement of Countrywide Home Loans, which holds the $1.4 million mortgage on the home.
In his court filings earlier this month, Mr. Guldi wrote that prosecutors “concocted” those charges in order to justify seizing earlier that year the $163,000 left over from the insurance payment: “While the DA may be able to get the Grand Jury to indict a ham sandwich, in this forgery/fraud case it’s baloney to justify an illegal seizure that was already more than six months old, constitutes prosecutorial, professional misconduct, and is part of a calculated scheme to deprive me of counsel and my right to an effective defense.”
Mr. Guldi went on to write that the case against him “seems destined to break every Constitutional right there is.”
He accused the district attorney’s office of using “various agents and sub agents” to attempt to gather surveillance evidence against him through “trick and deception.” He also wrote that he had been “subjected to illegal evidence gathering by illegal surveillance tapes” and “illegal seizure of all the client files and computers” in his law office by prosecutors during their investigation into the alleged mortgage fraud.