At Federal Court in Central Islip, Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano on Thursday was sentenced to 12 years in prison and his wife Linda received a sentence of 15 months. U.S. District Court Judge Joan Azrack told Edward Mangano that his, "crimes and your betrayal of the public trust have done incalculable harm." Newsday's Faith Jessie, Cecilia Dowd and Joye Brown report. Credit: Newsday staff; Photo Credit: Government Exhibits

This story was reported by Scott Eidler, Bridget Murphy and Michael O'Keeffe. It was written by Murphy.

A judge Thursday sentenced Edward Mangano to 12 years in federal prison after a corruption case that transformed the once-popular Nassau County government leader into a felon while ensnaring his wife in a bribery scheme involving a politically connected family friend.

“Democracy is a precious thing and crimes such as yours strike at the heart,” U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack said while sentencing the former Republican Nassau County executive.

“From the onset of your administration, you defiled your office and the oath you had taken to serve the people of Nassau County,” she also told Mangano in a Central Islip courtroom.

Azrack added: “You have shown no remorse for your actions in the slightest.”

The judge said the court case “laid bare a culture of corruption.” Then she declared: “The rot ran deep within Nassau County and within you.”

Later Thursday, Azrack sentenced Mangano’s wife Linda, 59, to 15 months in prison, calling her an “insider” whose lies obstructed a federal corruption investigation.

She told the former county executive to surrender to prison officials on June 13 and his wife to surrender on June 27.

Both husband and wife maintain their innocence. For the first time, both spoke in court Thursday about the case and the personal toll it had exacted.

The sentencing came nearly six years after their arrests, following a 2018 mistrial, a 2019 retrial and then court delays amid the pandemic. 

Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano leaves federal court Thursday...

Former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano leaves federal court Thursday after being sentenced to 12 years in prison for corruption. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Gripping both sides of a podium, Edward Mangano, 60, delivered an impassioned, unfiltered speech before hearing his sentence.

His attorney, Kevin Keating, interrupted him three times. But Mangano plowed forward, looking battered yet defiant while offering a lengthy defense of his actions.

"I haven't been able to say anything in the last seven years and I just want you to know the type of people we are," he told the judge.

He said he and his wife were “not conspiring people,” but “caring people.”

He told Azrack he had worked hard his whole life, saying: “I just don’t have criminal intent.”

Edward Mangano also said that in his government role, he hadn’t had the power to be as influential in Town of Oyster Bay matters as the jury found he was when it came to helping push through millions in loan guarantees for restaurateur Harendra Singh, a town concessionaire.

Mangano added that he felt like he was “just taking the fall for these guys’ careers of criminal activity,” referencing former Oyster Bay officials who became prosecution witnesses.

He said he wished he had “hindsight vision” but had been “so focused on running the county” that he hadn’t had the time then to think about Singh — someone he said had been “a friend for 30 years.”

Mangano spoke more about the deep ties between his family and Singh's, while saying he didn’t “keep a record of receipts” over the years as they vacationed together but that he and his wife paid their share of expenses.

"My life has been destroyed," he also told the judge, saying he was mentally “a wreck” and in “massive debt.”

Before he finished, Mangano asked for leniency for his wife and for himself, saying his Nassau County administration had been known to give people second chances.

Federal prosecutors said Mangano, a two-term county executive who first served as a Nassau legislator, monetized his power from the moment he took the helm of Nassau’s government in 2010 by accepting bribes from Singh.

The jury found Edward Mangano used his influence to sway Town of Oyster Bay officials into indirectly backing what amounted to $20 million in loans for the restaurateur after an outside lawyer for the municipality called such a transaction illegal and “a complete sham.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office presented evidence that Singh gave bribes to the county executive that included a $454,000 “no-show” job for Linda Mangano, free meals and vacations, two luxury chairs, hardwood flooring for the master bedroom in the couple’s Bethpage home and a $7,300 wristwatch for one of their sons.

Singh became the prosecution’s star witness after pleading guilty to charges that included bribery, conspiracy and tax evasion. He testified for six days at the 2019 trial about how he lavished bribes on Edward Mangano after the politician ascended to the top of Nassau’s government in a surprise election win.

“I bribed Ed Mangano and he did favors for me,” Singh told the jury. “Whatever was needed, I took care of it.”

Jurors found the former elected official guilty of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, federal program bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

They found Linda Mangano guilty of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and two counts of lying to the FBI.

Linda Mangano leaves federal court after being sentenced to 15 months...

Linda Mangano leaves federal court after being sentenced to 15 months in prison on Thursday in Central Islip. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

In a separate proceeding Thursday, she addressed the judge before hearing her sentence in a voice that quaked with emotion as her hands shook.

"I welcomed the FBI into my home more than once and had coffee and muffins with them. I did so because I had nothing to hide," she said.

Nassau County's former first lady expressed remorse for what she called her role in this "burden" but didn't admit to any wrongdoing. "In my heart I just can't agree with it," she said.

She also said her portrayal as "lazy, uncooperative, and a liar" wasn't who she was.

"I was raised to be a humble person," Linda Mangano said through sobs, her words at times incomprehensible. 

"I've never lived my life feeling entitled," she added, saying that throughout the court process the "public humiliation, pain and suffering have at times been unbearable."

She also asked to stay out of prison so she could rebuild her life and witness the upcoming birth of her and her husband’s first grandchild.

Azrack called Linda Mangano “a smart and capable woman” and disagreed with an assertion from defense lawyer John Carman that Nassau’s former first lady had been “swept up in something far bigger than she was.”

The judge added that Linda Mangano’s lies to the FBI "were designed … to impede a major investigation into corruption at Nassau County’s highest levels.”

Before announcing Linda Mangano’s sentence, Azrack also said the defendant “knew full well what the criminal relationship was between her husband and Harendra Singh” and was a “beneficiary of that corrupt relationship."

The U.S. Attorney’s Office had asked Azrack to punish Linda Mangano with 2½ years in federal prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Mirabile said in court Thursday that the wife of the then-county executive lied to federal officials “to throw them off the scent of corruption in her husband’s administration.”

Carman, Linda’s attorney, asked for a sentence of community service for his client, saying she had “lived in service to others.”

This week he filed a petition from 572 people who also asked for community service for Linda, saying her life was “defined by kindness and a selfless impulse to help others less fortunate.”

On Thursday, Carman called Singh a “next-level” con man and stressed that Linda Mangano admitted from the start that her employment with Singh was a “low-show” job.

“Sentencing should make sense,” Carman told the judge. “In what world does Linda Mangano receive more punishment than a man like Harendra Singh?”

Last month federal prosecutors asked Azrack to sentence Edward Mangano to 17½ years in prison, saying he’d put his own financial interests above those he was elected to serve in what amounted to “a stunning abuse of power.”

Mirabile said Thursday during his sentencing that “the consequences of the defendant’s toxic tenure are far-reaching” and his punishment needed “to send a message that corruption should not be tolerated.”

But Keating, Edward Mangano’s attorney, asked the judge Thursday to show “substantial leniency,” in expansive comments on the case during which he attacked Singh as someone who committed “rank perjury” and “perpetrated a hoax on the court.”

Keating also echoed his argument in court paperwork, saying that the former county executive “lost virtually everything” in the seven years since the law enforcement probe began.

The defense attorney said that had included Mangano’s political career, most of his assets and his good reputation, “all because 12 years ago a phony friend of 25 years asked him to show up at a meeting over which he had no ability to impact.”

That statement referenced trial testimony about an April 2010 meeting at the political headquarters of the now-late former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto.

Harendra Singh poses in his restaurant Oct. 26, 2005. 

Harendra Singh poses in his restaurant Oct. 26, 2005.  Credit: Newsday Staff Photographer/David L. Pokress

Prosecution witness Jonathan Sinnreich, who had been Oyster Bay’s outside counsel, testified Edward Mangano put a hand on Singh’s shoulder at the meeting about potential town-backed financing and echoed a comment Venditto made about trying to help find a way to help the restaurateur.

Venditto, who died in 2020, beat corruption charges at the 2018 trial that ended in a mistrial for the Manganos.

Leonard Genova, Venditto’s longtime second-in-command in Oyster Bay, testified under an immunity deal that Mangano began lobbying Venditto to help Singh get financing as soon as Mangano became county executive.

Throughout court proceedings, the defense portrayed Singh as a liar who would say anything to avoid going to prison, and as someone who tried to exploit his long-term friendship with the Manganos to get Nassau contracts — which they argued didn’t work.

The jury acquitted the former county executive of allegedly steering two county contracts to the restaurateur in 2012 that together were worth more than $400,000. One was a bread and rolls contract for Nassau’s jail and the other was a no-bid contract to feed relief workers in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Keating on Thursday also outlined what could form part of the basis of an appeal for Edward Mangano, while referencing a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The defense attorney said recently while making the same argument in a court filing that any “limited support” Mangano provided toward Singh’s effort at getting loans from Oyster Bay “was borne out of their 25-year friendship.”

The attorney said in the court paperwork that the support “fell miles short of constituting an ‘official act’” as defined by the nation’s highest court in a ruling that narrowed the term’s definition under the federal bribery statute.

At trial, the defense contended the perks Singh provided were simply gifts from a family friend and Edward Mangano never took any formal action in return.

Carman, Linda’s attorney, argued that Linda’s “low-show job” with Singh’s now-defunct restaurant empire wasn’t illegal and that emails showed she had worked on projects in 2010 with the manager of his former Queens restaurant, Water’s Edge.

Carman also suggested in court that the FBI “set a trap” for Linda after she agreed to talk to investigators once at her home and twice at their office in 2015. He criticized the officials for not recording the meeting and for taking what he characterized as poor notes as they questioned her about her work for Singh.

Jurors found Linda Mangano didn’t lie when two FBI agents visited her at home but did lie in the other meetings.

Singh, who testified for six days at the Manganos’ 2019 trial, was the prosecution’s star witness after pleading guilty to charges that included bribery, conspiracy and tax evasion.

The defense contended during the trial that the perks from Singh were gifts from a friend and that Edward Mangano never took any formal government action in return.

But Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney for New York’s Eastern District, said outside the courthouse Thursday after the sentencings that the former county executive "sold himself and his office” and that for Mangano “public service was self-service.”

Peace added: “The disgraceful and greedy conduct of the Manganos has been exposed and they have been punished. The same fate awaits those in public service who abuse their positions to serve themselves and not the people.”

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