The federal judge presiding over the corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, his wife, Linda, and former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto has denied all defense motions challenging the government’s case against them.
Repeatedly in her 33-page decision, filed Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Joan M. Azrack found that arguments raised by defense attorneys were “premature” and either baseless or insufficient to keep the case from proceeding to trial.
“As explained below,” Azrack wrote, “all of the defendants’ motions are denied.”
The decision rejects a host of defense claims including that some charges should be dismissed because they are either flawed or were filed too late; that the three defendants should be tried separately because they could offer prejudicial statements against each other; and that the government engaged in “selective” prosecution.
Prosecutors say the Manganos and Venditto were involved in a scheme to illegally get restaurateur Harendra Singh Nassau County contracts as well as more than $20 million in indirect loan guarantees from Oyster Bay.
Edward Mangano has been charged with conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud and extortion. Linda Mangano has been charged with making false statements, conspiracy, extortion and obstruction of justice. Venditto is facing charges of conspiracy, bribery, securities fraud, wire fraud and obstruction of justice.
All have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to go on trial next month.
The defense claim of selective prosecution stems from recent revelations that Singh, the government’s star informant, secretly pleaded guilty in October 2016 to bribing Mangano and Venditto, and also to trying to bribe a New York City elected official with campaign contributions — identified in Azrack’s decision as Mayor Bill de Blasio. De Blasio has not been charged after prosecutors examined his relationship with Singh and his overall fundraising practices.
Azrack said the cases were different for three reasons: The de Blasio case involved only “campaign contributions” and not personal gifts, a fact that would increase the government’s burden of proof for bribery; the defendants failed to demonstrate they are “similarly situated” to de Blasio; and, critically, the de Blasio matter was already reviewed by a different set of federal prosecutors, who declined to move forward with a case against him.
Defendant Venditto had also hoped to suppress some statements he made to prosecutors because, his defense alleged, the government improperly interviewed him and violated his due process rights. Also, the defendants wanted access to grand jury minutes that they felt were exculpatory and to which they felt entitled.
John Carman of Garden City, Linda Mangano’s attorney, maintained his client’s innocence and bemoaned the decision.
”We are disappointed in Judge Azrack’s decision to deny the motions, which gives the government an advantage it does not deserve,” he said. “We remain optimistic that the unrestrained power of the government will not be able to overcome the fact that Linda Mangano is innocent.”
Edward Mangano’s attorney, Kevin Keating of Garden City, declined to comment and Venditto’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo of Manhattan, could not be reached for comment.
The trial is scheduled to begin on March 12.