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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

In Nassau corruption cases, the witness list begins to take shape

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano surrenders with his

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano surrenders with his wife, Linda, at FBI headquarters on Oct. 20, 2016, in Melville. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The federal corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto and Mangano’s spouse, Linda Mangano, isn’t slated to begin until next month.

But a cache of recently unsealed court documents offers some insight into the government’s case against the trio — and, perhaps, witnesses who could appear in court.

Other court papers filed by attorneys for Mangano, his spouse and Venditto — all of whom have pleaded not guilty — offer a glimpse, too, into what is shaping up as a vigorous defense.

According to documents unsealed recently, Frederick Mei, who resigned as a deputy Oyster Bay Town attorney on Aug. 31, 2015, secretly pleaded guilty to a charge of honest services fraud.

Court documents detailed Mei’s statements that he received “bribes and kickbacks” for helping secure town loan guarantees for an unnamed concessionaire. The documents also referred to a cooperation agreement between Mei and federal officials.

In addition to Mei, another possible witness is Harendra Singh, a former town concessionaire.

As it turns out, Singh also has a cooperation agreement — the details of which, like Mei’s, were not included in court papers — with federal prosecutors.

Singh, a longtime friend of the Manganos, entered a secret guilty plea to bribing Mangano, Venditto and an unnamed New York City official at the U.S. District Courthouse in Central Islip on Oct. 17, 2016 — one year, one month and 11 days after Mei.

During the proceedings, according to court documents, Singh told a federal magistrate that, among other things, he provided a job to Linda Mangano “at the request of Ed Mangano and my purpose in hiring her was to influence Ed.”

Meanwhile, a Newsday report by Celeste Hadrick about a Democrat-connected law firm’s work on transactions in Oyster Bay that led to some of the allegations against Mangano and Venditto cited court papers noting that federal prosecutors were expected to call the Harris Beach law firm of Uniondale and partner William Garry as witnesses.

Neither the law firm nor Garry has been charged with any wrongdoing.

Even as the government’s case begins shaping up in public view, so too is the likely path of the defense.

Attorneys for Edward Mangano and Venditto, in statements to Newsday, called into question Singh’s honesty and motivation in pleading guilty to paying bribes to the two defendants.

In his separate proceeding, Mei also told the magistrate he had accepted bribes from a concessionaire, who later was identified as Singh.

“The release of Singh’s plea confirms what we all knew — a man who faces decades in prison for his own vast and hidden criminality struck a cooperation deal . . . in a desperate effort to save himself,” said Mangano’s attorney, Kevin Keating of Garden City.

In his statement, Venditto’s attorney, Marc Agnifilo, slammed Singh as well.

“The world will see that Singh indeed had a connection to Oyster Bay, but that it wasn’t John Venditto,” Agnifilo said. “My advice to every one is to pay close attention to the trial. ”

Which is slated to begin March 12.

Edward Mangano has been charged with conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud and extortion.

Linda Mangano has been charged with making false statements, conspiracy, extortion and obstruction of justice.

Venditto is facing charges of conspiracy, bribery, securities fraud, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.

All have pleaded not guilty.

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