The federal corruption retrial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda, Tuesday was abruptly adjourned until January — just days before their second trial was to begin — after prosecutors turned over new material to the defense.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Mirabile asked for the delay, along with the Manganos’ defense attorneys.
“This is a massive amount of previously undisclosed material,” said Kevin Keating, Edward Mangano’s attorney, after the short proceeding. “I’m seething.”
U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack agreed to adjourn the retrial, set to start next week, and set a new trial date for Jan. 10. The nature of the new material was not disclosed in court.
A source said the material involves more than 2,000 FBI wiretaps on the telephones of Harendra Singh, the government's star witness in the case. Some of the calls are in Hindi and need time to be translated into English by the defense, the source said.
The calls were made before Singh, who had been a longtime friend of the Manganos, began cooperating with federal investigators into their activities, sources said.
Sources said the defense has not had time to review the material and assess whether it could be used to bolster their case at the trial.
Tyler Daniels, a spokesman for Eastern District prosecutors, said the office had no comment.
Linda Mangano’s attorney, John Carman, declined to comment.
After court, Keating declined to comment further about the content of the material.
Singh’s attorney, Anthony LaPinta, said afterward that the material was “trivial and irrelevant” and did not involve anything of significance.
The material involves telephone wiretaps that FBI agents were required by law not to record fully, as they did not involve possible criminal activity by subjects under investigation or co-conspirators, under a process known as “minimization,” LaPinta said.
“It is my understanding that the 2,000 calls were ‘minimized’ calls,” LaPinta said. “Only calls involving discussions about the subject matter of the investigations can be recorded. All other calls must be terminated or minimized.”
While it is unusual for the government to turn over such material, the government is giving its comprehensive files to the defense, even material it considers irrelevant and is not required to do so, to prevent possible grounds for appeals, sources said.
FBI agents usually do not mention to prosecutors minimized information that the investigators believe has no bearing on a case, and they had not done so in the Mangano case until recently, the sources said.
Keating has repeatedly asked prosecutors if the government has turned over all of the information — known as Brady material — evidence which the government is obligated to reveal if it would help the defense.
Keating said at a hearing last week that since the last trial, the government had recently turned over some new material that he might be able to use at the retrial to impeach government witnesses.
Prosecutors have denied withholding Brady material. They said they had turned over material that was not necessary, but that they would continue to search government records.
Azrack said she was accepting the prosecutors’ words that they were acting properly.
The adjournment development happened Tuesday morning as 350 potential jurors waited in the ground floor juror room at the federal court house in Central Islip, nine floors below Azrack’s courtroom.
They had been summoned to begin screening for the potential pool of jurors next week for the retrial. As a result, they were dismissed from immediate further jury duty.
The potential jurors came from the Eastern District of New York which stretches from Staten Island, through Brooklyn and Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, to Montauk.
The Manganos’ previous trial lasted 12 weeks before Azrack declared a mistrial on May 31. That trial also included as a third defendant, former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, who was acquitted of all counts against him.
At their retrial, Edward Mangano faces seven felony counts, including federal program bribery, honest-services wire fraud, extortion and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Linda Mangano faces five felony counts, including conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to the FBI. The Manganos have pleaded not guilty.
The case centers on prosecutors’ allegations that Edward Mangano, in return for bribes that included a $450,000 no-show job for his wife, helped Singh get a number of Nassau County contracts, as well as $20 million in indirect loan guarantees from the Town of Oyster Bay.
Defense attorneys maintained that there was nothing illegal about Singh giving gifts to the Manganos, his longtime friends, and that, in return, the former county executive did nothing to break the law.
With Nicole Fuller