Linda Mangano arrives at federal court in Central Islip in January 2019. 

Linda Mangano arrives at federal court in Central Islip in January 2019.  Credit: James Carbone

Linda Mangano "has lived in service to others" and "was swept up in something far bigger than she was," a lawyer for the former Nassau County executive’s wife said in a court filing Friday that asks a judge to spare her from prison time following her federal conviction.

A sentence of community service for Mangano, 58, of Bethpage, "is justified by a life defined by kindness and a selfless impulse to help others less fortunate," attorney John Carman also wrote in a memo ahead of her sentencing next month.

Jurors in 2019 found Nassau’s former first lady guilty of charges that included lying to the FBI about the $454,000 "no-show job" as a food taster and menu planner that prosecutors said restaurateur Harendra Singh gave her as one of several bribes to her husband, Edward Mangano.

The jury also convicted Edward Mangano, 59, of corruption charges, finding he took bribes from Singh while serving as county executive. Prosecutors presented evidence that those bribes also included five vacations, free meals, two luxury chairs, hardwood flooring for the Manganos' bedroom and a $7,300 wristwatch for one of their sons.

Jurors decided Edward Mangano paid Singh back by pressuring Oyster Bay municipal officials into indirectly backing $20 million in loans for the restaurateur, a transaction a town lawyer had warned was illegal.

Attorneys for the Manganos, who still maintain their innocence, contended in court that the perks Singh gave the couple were gifts from a longtime family friend and that Edward Mangano never took any formal government action in return. The couple’s 2019 retrial followed a 2018 mistrial, a proceeding at which a jury also acquitted John Venditto, the now-late former Town of Oyster Bay supervisor, of corruption charges.

Linda Mangano has experienced "pain, sadness and suffering that have pushed her beyond her limits" in the last several years and "her life and marriage are in shambles," Carman also wrote in Friday's court filing.

Edward and Linda Mangano outside federal court in Central Islip...

Edward and Linda Mangano outside federal court in Central Islip after being convicted of corruption on March 8, 2019.  Credit: James Carbone

The Garden City defense attorney, who told Newsday that probation officials recommended an 18-month prison sentence for his client, also wrote that Linda Mangano "holds a firm and honest belief" she didn’t break the law.

"In retrospect, Linda can certainly see how her relationship with Mr. Singh appears to others, given that she was married to a public official. In real time, unfortunately, she failed to recognize that by accepting her ‘friend’s’ generosity, she was putting herself in grave danger," Carman said in the court papers.

U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman John Marzulli declined to comment on the defense filing Friday. Edward Mangano’s attorney also is expected to file a court memo before prosecutors will file their own sentencing recommendations early next month.

U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack previously set March 23 as the sentencing date for the Manganos, rejecting defense arguments asking for a new trial on grounds that included a claim Singh committed perjury while testifying against them.

Besides two counts of lying to the FBI, jurors also convicted Linda Mangano of conspiracy to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice. They convicted Edward Mangano 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.

During the trial, government witnesses who had worked for Singh testified they had little or no contact with Linda Mangano in the workplace, and if they did, it was because she appeared to be his guest and not a restaurant employee.

The defense contended at trial that Linda Mangano’s position actually was a "low-show" job, while pointing to emails that showed she worked on projects in 2010 with the manager of Singh’s former Queens restaurant, Water’s Edge.

Evidence showed Singh put her on his payroll in April 2010 before Town of Oyster Bay officials voted that June to authorize backing of personal loans for Singh to fund capital improvements at a town golf course catering hall in Woodbury and at Tobay Beach, where Singh was contracted to run concessions.

The Manganos conspired to obstruct a grand jury probe by scheming with Singh to fabricate examples of work that Linda never did at Water’s Edge, and Linda Mangano lied to federal officials on two dates in 2015 about the work she claimed to have performed, according to the jury's verdict.

But the prosecution's casting of Linda Mangano "as an entitled and lazy 'food tester'" leaves out the truth of the life she has lived in service to others, Friday's defense filing said.

Dozens of letters from community members and friends that accompanied Carman's memo appealed to the judge for leniency in sentencing. They described Linda Mangano's volunteer work as having included serving as a leader in the Bethpage school district's PTAs, as a founding member of the Bethpage Chamber of Commerce, as an advocate for those battling addiction and their families, and as a hospital board member.

Bart Cafarella, who owns the real estate brokerage where Linda Mangano has worked since 2018, wrote that she had raised two sons — now serving as a Nassau police officer and a Bronx prosecutor — "with her values, to help others" and is "an integral part of the community through her massive volunteer efforts."

He also wrote: "Respectfully your Honor, to satisfy her conviction, I would encourage you to seek an alternative penalty that is productive to society and does not burden the taxpayer."

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