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Jul 29, 2011 5:18 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Guldi Pleads Guilty To 35 Counts, Will Receive Concurrent Sentence

Aug 2, 2011 6:07 PM

Former Suffolk County Legislator George O. Guldi of Westhampton Beach abruptly pleaded guilty to 35 felony counts on Friday, in the midst of jury selection for his second criminal trial, which was to focus on his role in a $82 million mortgage fraud scheme that primarily targeted homes on the East End.

Mr. Guldi, who has been jailed since being found guilty of two unrelated felonies in March, pleaded guilty to 34 charges of grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud, according to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

In return for his guilty plea on charges from two separate indictments, Suffolk County Judge James F.X. Doyle said that Mr. Guldi will receive a sentence of between one and three years when he is sentenced on Wednesday, August 31. Regardless of length, the sentence on the latest charges will run concurrently to the sentence of four to 12 years that he received after his previous conviction—meaning he will not be sentenced to any additional jail time as a result of the guilty pleas on Friday.

In March, Mr. Guldi was found guilty of insurance fraud and grand larceny, charges related to the misuse of insurance funds after his Westhampton Beach home burned down in November 2008.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said he is “extremely disappointed that, over our objection, the judge has promised the defendant a sentence that is completely inadequate to punish him and deter the massive mortgage fraud that has so severely impacted our local economy.”

Mr. Guldi’s codefendant in the upcoming trial—attorney Brandon Lisi, 37, of Dix Hills—also pleaded guilty on Friday, admitting to his role in creating millions in fraudulent mortgage deals to victimize Washington Mutual Bank, JP Morgan Chase, and other lenders in transactions to buy commercial and residential property in Sag Harbor, Cold Spring Harbor, Southampton and Huntington. Mr. Lisi pleaded guilty to all of the charges in the indictment, including two counts of grand larceny in the first degree and one charge of grand larceny in the second degree.

Judge Doyle also agreed to sentence Mr. Lisi to between one and three years for his role in the crime, according to the DA’s office. It is not clear when Mr. Lisi will be sentenced, as he also faces federal trial on separate bank and wire fraud charges, according to Mr. Clifford.

In response to the judge’s announcement of the agreed-upon sentence in exchange for the plea, Mr. Spota has directed his mortgage fraud unit prosecutor, Thalia Stavrides, to ask Judge Doyle to sentence the defendant to the maximum term of incarceration, eight and one-third to 25 years, and to request it to run consecutive to his other sentence.

“Mr. Guldi’s greed leaves a trail of financial ruin heretofore unseen in this county,” Mr. Spota is quoted as saying in a prepared statement released immediately following Friday’s plea announcement. “His scheme to defraud lenders through the use of straw purchasers, false documents and phony loan applications duped financial institutions into loaning him and his codefendants millions of dollars for houses that today are all in default.”

In an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Spota said the plea deal that the judge struck with Mr. Guldi, who was serving as his own attorney, and Mr. Lisi would undermine the efforts of his office to bring other defrauders to justice. He explained that Mr. Guldi and Mr. Lisi, who have steadfastly denied any wrongdoing and refused to cooperate with investigators, would be receiving far lighter sentences than other defendants who have helped investigators unravel fraud schemes.

“We worked hard to bring these cases—I formed a special mortgage fraud unit specifically to prosecute these types of cases,” Mr. Spota said on Tuesday. “What kind of message does this send to those engaging in this? We have cooperators who may very well wind up serving more time than these two. It doesn’t compute.”

Mr. Guldi, a now-disbarred attorney and a longtime Southampton Democratic Committee member, served as legislator of the 2nd Legislative District, which includes all of the South Fork, from 1994 until 2003. He lived and had a law practice in Westhampton Beach before being found guilty of a pair of felonies this past spring, and lost his law license as a result.

He has been held in the Suffolk County Jail in Riverside since his conviction. Once he has received his latest sentence from Judge Doyle, Mr. Guldi will be transferred to an as yet undetermined state prison facility to serve out his sentence.

In some ways, Mr. Spota said that the case against Mr. Lisi is more bothersome in that the defendant could serve as little as a year in prison before being released. Mr. Spota said his office had expected Mr. Lisi to serve at least four to 12 years for his crimes, if convicted by a jury.

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By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Jul 29, 11 5:42 PM
Sad? really? Good ridden!

John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton in 1887 stated - "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

Enjoy the bread and water George....
By BIGjimbo12 (201), East Quogue on Jul 29, 11 5:47 PM
The judge didn't even consult the prosecutor? Is Guldi going to testify against the others? it seems like a very low sentence to me.
By Quogonian (14), Quogue on Jul 29, 11 6:15 PM
What about all the fraud they didnt get charged with? 8 years minimum seems fair to me. How about restitution?
By Quogonian (14), Quogue on Jul 29, 11 6:17 PM
By Bel (86), southampton on Jul 29, 11 6:23 PM
I love it, a crook (Guildi) rips off other crooks (banks who did zero due dillegence since they were loaning other peoples money) who were ripping off institutional investors (primarily other crooked banks) with the help of yet more crooks (bond rating agencies).

Who was the victim here again? Oh right, the taxpayers who bailed out the investment banks holding the mortgage backed securities. Well, not exactly the taxpayers, since we borrowed the money for the bailout....future taxpayers ...more
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Jul 29, 11 6:30 PM
2 members liked this comment
The "victims" are all those that live near the 60 plus houses that Guildi and McPhearson ran (or didn't run) collecting $$$$ from overcrowding the houses....The judge may someday be in the same situation...he shouldn't feel so comfortable and call "home" anymore...it's just a house and he can probably move...so the hell with justice and law-make it easy $$$ for everyone!
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Jul 29, 11 9:53 PM
$82M fraud & he gets 1 to 4 concurrent w/ no restitution? Guess white collar crime gets rewarded here in Suffolk. Maybe he can share a cell and some quality time w/ Ex Mayor Motz of Quogue? He is also doing time for ripping people off.
By G (342), Southampton on Jul 29, 11 7:35 PM
1 member liked this comment
I don't know what the losses were, but remember that while the $82 mil in mortgages were fraudulantly obtained, they are secured by real property, so the losses will be much, much smaller.
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Jul 29, 11 7:39 PM
In your dreams, R1st!

The defrocked attorney-turned-title-guy forged a bunch of deeds, showing them to be unencumbered pieces if real property. Financial institutions relied on those Title Reports to lend money on them.

So how in your mind are they "secured by real property?" Those mortgages are secured by nothing other than forged paper!

By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jul 29, 11 7:52 PM
1 member liked this comment
Banks are supposed to do a simple MERS check (a nationwide mortgage registry) for existing mortgages before issuing new ones.

Are you saying he got multiple mortgages on the same properties? If so, I wasn't aware that was the case.

I'm not defending the guy, I just hate the use of inaccurate, but dramatic headline creating figures being used.
By RealityFirst (597), Bridgehampton on Jul 30, 11 12:35 PM
All this bad news is bringing us all down. believe it or not you do not have a good feeling about our country when we realize so many greedypeople in places of power. Big Jimbo is right The quotation is an old one, and right on today!
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Jul 29, 11 8:12 PM
What a loser....Guldi belongs in jail. I'm looking forward to hearing what happens to McPherson. If there's one person who's a bigger wart on the butt of society than Guldi, it's McPherson. Let's all hope they both stay in jail for life.
By getalife (61), Southampton on Jul 29, 11 10:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
judges have a lot of sympathy for ex-politicians charged with white collar crimes because they got to where they are the same way. Back room deals, corruption, payoffs occur from the bottom to the top. they look and say 'there but for the grace of God go I ".
By jim (48), hampton bays on Jul 30, 11 12:02 AM
The fact is that judges (small "j" intended), have to pay attention to politicians and ex-politicians 'cause that's how they got their jobs and their under the table perks....
By Doug (14), Hampton Bays on Aug 11, 11 5:45 PM
They HAD to offer this plea to avoid the details of the $4.1 million Levy/Spota bribe becoming public. On Thursday, Judge Doyle had to reverse his ruling kicking me out of the courtroom on Wednesday, and they could not prevent me reporting on the trial.
By terriscofield (5), East Yaphank on Jul 30, 11 10:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
Now THIS is a story the public should know more about ! I hope in the future you can tell us all about what is really going on in this particular case, sounds like George got the judge he was looking for !! lol !
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Jul 30, 11 10:59 AM
That's all right, terriscofield, we're not like the OTHERS -- we LIKE you! You can trust us.
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Jul 30, 11 5:49 PM
Terri please, enough with the conspiracy theories, George plead guilty to more than 30 felony counts, he wants to get on with his life. Let him do his time and live out the rest of his life in peace. You have been like an anchor around his neck stuck on with crazy glue.
By gusbeme (33), southampton on Jul 30, 11 12:51 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By HSA (68), southampton on Aug 1, 11 7:06 AM
Guilty on 35 felony counts and only 1-3 years? I am outraged! I guess white collar crime does pay.
By fritzdaddy (35), southampton on Aug 1, 11 8:58 PM
"Only 1-3 years?"

Last I checked, it was 4-12 years, so save your outrage for something outrageous!
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Aug 2, 11 7:03 PM
don't you know about "GOOD BEHAVIOR" , after your have "reformed" and getting out early?
By Doug (14), Hampton Bays on Aug 11, 11 5:47 PM
Guldi's house burned down when all this was unraveling, and then he misused the insurance money. Makes you wonder if the fire was an accident ...
By WHBangler (9), westhampton beach on Aug 2, 11 9:52 AM
"Makes you wonder if the fire was an accident ..."

You're from that village, and you're just getting around this this now? Where were you during Guldi's original trial?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Aug 2, 11 7:10 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By annselm (3), Southampton on Aug 4, 11 8:18 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By fritzdaddy (35), southampton on Aug 7, 11 11:28 AM
I have known George Guldi all my life, went to school with him and I expected nothing different from him.
By Doug (14), Hampton Bays on Aug 11, 11 5:48 PM