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Jury begins deliberations in Mangano corruption case

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The jury in the corruption retrial of former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his wife, Linda, began deliberations on Thursday. Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys presented closing arguments from Monday to Wednesday, according to Newsday.

Throughout the five-week trial, the U.S. government sought to convince jurors that Ed Mangano accepted bribes from his former friend, restaurateur Harendra Singh, in exchange for political favors and that Linda Mangano lied to investigators about a no-show job she had with Singh. Both were tried last year, in a case that ended in a hung jury, alongside John Venditto, the former Oyster Bay Town supervisor who was acquitted of charges that he used the town to guarantee loans for Singh.

The defense team characterized Singh as a liar who tried, but failed, to influence Ed Mangano with gifts. Singh, the defense attorneys added, only testified against the couple to gain leniency for his own crimes; he pleaded guilty in 2016 to eight charges, including federal program bribery and obstructing and impeding the due administration of internal revenue laws.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz urged jurors to pay attention to the timing of the gifts provided to the Manganos by Singh. “Dates matter,” Treinis Gatz repeated often, in her opening arguments on Jan. 22 at the federal courthouse in Central Islip.

Treinis Gatz said Singh never provided the Manganos with gifts before Ed Mangano became county executive in 2010, despite being friends with them for more than 20 years. “Only after Ed Mangano had become Nassau County executive . . . did Mr. Singh bestow anything of value,” she said. “Dates matter. Timing is significant.”

When he took the county’s top post and left his job as an attorney, Ed Mangano took a pay cut of more than $100,000. The gifts from Singh, and Linda Mangano’s no-show job, helped make up for that loss, Treinis Gatz said. “He sold himself and his office so that he and his wife could maintain the lifestyle to which they had become accustomed,” she said.

Kevin Keating, Ed Mangano’s defense attorney, in his opening arguments and during cross-examination with witnesses, said the gifts from Singh were just a kind gesture from a longtime friend, and that the restaurateur got little to nothing in return for them. The only county contract Singh received was an emergency one to provide food for government workers after Superstorm Sandy.

Treinis Gatz, though, said a county-approved caterer was already approved to do that job and was replaced by Singh the same week he bought the Manganos’ son a $7,300 watch. She also said Ed Mangano steered a contract to Singh to provide bread and rolls to county jail inmates from a low bidder, who had been doing the work for 10 years.

Keating disputed that the bread and rolls contract was steered by Mangano, saying the late Peter Schmitt, the former presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, wanted to ensure contracts went to local vendors like Singh. Singh, though, later backed out of the contract, as his bakery could not handle the work required.

Keating also called it “preposterous” that Mangano used his power to convince Oyster Bay officials to back Singh on $20 million in loans, saying he would not have the clout to do so as a newly minted county executive in 2010. He also said former town officials were already “doing backflips” for Singh, who ran concession stands on Oyster Bay property, by extending those contracts.

John Carman, Linda Mangano’s lawyer, said there was nothing illegal about her having a low-show or no-show job with Singh. He also criticized federal investigators for being careless when interviewing Linda Mangano about the job by not recording or taping any discussion.

“There is no word-for-word account of what Linda said in any of the three meetings,” he said, criticizing the “scribbled notes” of FBI Special Agent Laura Spence that prosecutors used to indict his client. “They went low-tech on her. Dare I say, they went no-tech.”