A federal prosecutor Wednesday said that the government and the defense are having discussions aimed at a plea deal that would resolve the bribery case of Long Island restaurateur Harendra Singh.
Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge Sandra Feuerstein, the prosecutor on the case, Catherine Mirabile, said both sides were “working toward a possible resolution” of the case.
Mirabile, assistant United States attorney for the Eastern District, made the comment in a status conference in federal court in Central Islip. The judge said she had hoped to set a trial date but postponed doing so while the defense reviews the extensive records turned over by the prosecution.
But neither Mirabile nor defense lawyer Anthony La Pinta would later comment on the state of the discussions, how serious they are, or what type of plea deal would be involved.
La Pinta of Hauppauge also said in court he plans to submit an application for bail for Singh, who is in federal custody.
Given the thousands of pages of documents that La Pinta has to examine, Feuerstein scheduled the next hearing in the case for May 2.
Singh was arrested in September on a number of felony charges, including bribing a former Town of Oyster Bay deputy attorney with $50,000 in checks made out to cash and a $36,000 lease for a luxury car, according to federal prosecutors.
The bribes Singh is accused of giving were intended to have Singh get an “indirect guarantee” from the town for $32 million on loans for his businesses, including the food concessions he ran on the town beaches and golf course, prosecutors alleged.
Other charges against Singh in September included defrauding the Internal Revenue Service by not reporting wages paid off-the-books to employees of his restaurants, obstruction of justice for lying to FBI agents, and fraudulently collecting almost a $1 million from the Federal Emergency Management for supposed damage to his Water’s Edge restaurant in Queens.
Singh pleaded not guilty and was released at the time on a $5 million bond.
But Singh was rearrested in December on violating his bond conditions by fraudulently submitting a loan application, and has been held in jail since, pending trial.
A former attorney for Singh, Joseph Conway, of Mineola, has said in court that federal prosecutors indicted his then-client because they are really interested in having him provide information against prominent politicians with whom he is friendly. Singh’s lawyers have denied he engaged in any improper activities with politicians.
Newsday has reported that employees of his restaurants have said that Singh provided free meals for, among others, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, and that records indicate that he paid for trips for Mangano. Conway has said that the two split the costs of trips. Mangano, who has deep ties to Oyster Bay politics, has denied any improprieties in his dealings with Singh.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE CASE
— Long Island restaurateur Harendra Singh was arrested and indicted in September on 13 federal charges including one that he bribed a former Town of Oyster Bay deputy attorney in order to have the town give him an “indirect guarantee” of $32 million in loans.
— He was released on $5 million bond and agreed not to engage in criminal activity.
— That month, the towns of Brookhaven and Oyster Bay move to sever financial ties with Singh’s company, BRS Concession Inc.
— Water’s Edge, a Long Island City restaurant and events venue operated by Singh, closed in late October after employees walked out complaining they had not been paid.
— Singh was re-arrested Dec. 16 on a charge of violating the conditions of his release by allegedly submitting a fraudulent loan application and has been held without bail.