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Mangano lawyer: Feds withheld favorable evidence during corruption trial

Linda Mangano and her husband, former Nassau County

Linda Mangano and her husband, former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, are seen outside federal court in Central Islip on May 31, after a mistrial was declared in their corruption trial. Credit: James Carbone

Federal prosecutors in the corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano repeatedly withheld evidence favorable to the defense and knowingly allowed their key witness to testify falsely, Mangano's attorney said in a motion filed Wednesday that demands the charges be dismissed.

Mangano, 56, and his wife, Linda, 54, both of Bethpage, were tried earlier this year along with former Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto. Jurors were unable to reach a verdict on the Manganos and acquitted Venditto.

In the motion, Edward Mangano's attorney, Kevin Keating of Garden City, wrote that evidence he has received since the mistrial shows the 12-week trial was "anything but fair." The motion comes after months of demands for such evidence, and months of replies by prosecutors that they had turned over everything.

Keating wrote that prosecutors knew of but concealed the existence of a key witness who would have absolved Mangano of any role in steering a contract to supply bread and rolls for the Nassau County jail to a bakery owned by restaurateur Harendra Singh. Jurors after the trial said this contract was the main issue on which they could not agree.

Prosecutors also "actively solicited testimony from Harendra Singh which they knew or should have known was false, and subsequently stood by while Singh perjured himself on cross-examination," Keating wrote. Singh, the key witness for the prosecution, was on the witness stand for 13 days.

Keating also wrote that prosecutors repeatedly misrepresented to the defense and to the court that they had turned over documents and recordings favorable to the defense, while withholding dozens of such recordings.

He wrote that prosecutors should not be permitted to try Mangano again.

"Having been forced to run the gauntlet of a federal criminal trial — a brutal, twelve-week ordeal which left the Manganos both financially and emotionally drained — the defendants now learn that they were deprived of a fair opportunity to obtain a full acquittal, due to serious and pervasive prosecutorial misconduct," Keating wrote. "To suggest that the appropriate sanction for the government is, in effect, a second chance to convict the Manganos, would be nothing short of perverse."

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York said his office would not comment on the motion.

Nor did Linda Mangano's attorney, John Carman of Garden City.

U.S. District Judge Joan M. Azrack gave prosecutors until Jan. 3 to respond, and gave Keating until Jan. 10 to file further motions if necessary.

Singh's attorney, Anthony La Pinta of Hauppauge, said Keating had the evidence he was permitted to have during the first trial. Most of the recordings of Singh demanded by Keating aren't usable because they are irrelevant to the charges, he said.

La Pinta said Mangano's defense team "was well aware of all county employees" involved in the bread and rolls contract. La Pinta did not address allegations that his client perjured himself.

In the motion, Keating noted that the defense always has claimed that Mangano was uninvolved in Singh getting the bread and rolls contract in 2012. Instead, the defense said it was the county Legislature's presiding officer, the late Peter Schmitt, who encouraged the county to give the contract to a Singh-owned bakery in his Massapequa district.

During the trial in her rebuttal summation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Mirabile told jurors: "This interference was not initiated by Peter Schmitt. There is no evidence of that whatsoever. This interference was initiated by the county executive’s office, and we all know who in the Nassau County executive's office initiated the interference."

Keating wrote that prosecutors knew then that wasn't true.

"In fact, we now know that during the course of the trial, a key witness told the government that she — not Edward Mangano — first brought this issue to the attention of Peter Schmitt," Keating wrote.

The person Keating referenced was Schmitt's deputy majority counsel, Meredith Anne Hughes. Keating included with his motion an affidavit signed by Hughes confirming her role in alerting Schmitt to the contract. The affidavit says Mangano had nothing to do with that contract.

Further, she said she told FBI Special Agent Michael Cassidy about that, and that he told her she might hear from prosecutors on the issue. But she never did, her affidavit says. After the trial, she sought out Keating.

Under what is known as the Brady rule, prosecutors are generally required to turn over to the defense evidence that is favorable to them.

"By concealing the existence of an unambiguously exculpatory witness, prosecutors violated their ethical obligations and the defendants' constitutional right to Brady material," Keating wrote. "Worse yet, after concealing such evidence, prosecutors capitalized on their own misconduct by actively promoting a false narrative — asking the jury to infer facts which they knew to be untrue: namely, that Edward Mangano 'initiated' Peter Schmitt’s involvement by means of an April 22nd phone call. ... The prejudice to Edward Mangano is incalculable."

During the trial, Singh testified that he bribed his longtime friend Mangano with gifts and vacations to get the bread and rolls contract and an emergency food contract during superstorm Sandy, and to encourage Mangano to pressure Venditto to have Oyster Bay Town guarantee loans for his businesses.

Defense attorneys argued that Singh lied about this and more — so that prosecutors would recommend a lighter sentence for his own crimes. Keating wrote that it is now clear that prosecutors knew he was lying about several issues.

At one point, Singh testified that he rented office space to Mangano's campaign and reduced the rent at Mangano's request.

Keating wrote that newly discovered documents recovered from Singh's computer server — to which the defense previously did not have access — show that leases Singh used in his testimony were actually forgeries he created to convince lenders to loan him money.

Government accounts of witness interviews show that prosecutors knew this was the case, Keating wrote.

"In short, Mr. Singh was encouraged and permitted to take the fruits of his own criminal activity and spin a wholly fictional narrative around them, in an effort to advance the government’s theory of the case," Keating wrote.

Keating also recounted his months of demands seeking wiretapped and other recordings of Singh. In one of them, according to the motion, Singh said the government wanted him to “tell them a story about some politician,” but that in order to do so, he would have to “make [expletive] up ... it will be all lies.” In others, he insisted he got "nothing" from Mangano, the motion said.

After denying that other recordings existed, Keating said, prosecutors eventually turned over dozens of others. He called prosecutors' previous insistence that they'd turned over all recordings "a flagrant and willful misrepresentation."

As late as last week, Keating wrote, he was still finding evidence favorable to Mangano that prosecutors should have turned over. In that instance, he received an account of an interview conducted by Cassidy and Mirabile with Peter Contino, an attorney at Rivkin Radler.

During the trial, the firm's managing partner, William Savino, testified that he believed notes he took of a phone conversation about arranging Oyster Bay Town-backed loans for Singh were from a conversation with Mangano. But Keating suggested during the trial the conversation was actually with Town Attorney Leonard Genova.

Contino told Mirabile and Cassidy the notes did concern a talk with Genova, yet Mirabile argued in her summation that it was "just absurd" to say Savino had that conversation with Genova and not Mangano.

Jury selection for the second trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 16.

Defense claims of prosecutorial misconduct

Edward Mangano's attorney, Kevin Keating of Garden City, wrote in a motion filed Wednesday:

  • Prosecutors knew of and concealed a witness who absolved Mangano of any role in steering a bread and rolls contract to Harendra Singh.
  • Prosecutors repeatedly deceived the court and the defense about the existence of recordings of Singh that were favorable to Mangano.
  • Prosecutors concealed a witness who would support the defense interpretation of notes of a phone conversation with a Rivkin Radler attorney about loan guarantees for the Town of Oyster Bay.
  • Singh's testimony about giving the Mangano campaign a break on rent was false and prosecutors knew it at the time.
  • Singh's testimony about buying property in India was false and prosecutors knew it at the time.

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