Lawyers for former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, his wife, Linda Mangano, and former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto have asked the federal judge presiding over the government’s corruption case to try them separately, throw out various charges and provide more detailed information on the government’s allegations to assist with their defense.
The requests were made in a flurry of pretrial motions to U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack at the court in Central Islip, including one early this month; she’s expected to rule on them before the trial is to start in March.
The three are accused of being involved in a kickback scheme to enable an unnamed former restaurateur to get county government contracts and to obtain from Oyster Bay indirect guarantees on more than $20 million in loans. Sources have identified the restaurateur as Harendra Singh.
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.
Each has pleaded not guilty.
While the bulk of the motions involve technical legal arguments, the one filed for Linda Mangano contains 37 pages of summaries of interviews with FBI agents, detailing her account of her relationship with Singh, who is named in the documents.
Federal prosecutors allege that Linda Mangano took in more than $450,000 from Singh in four years, for a no-show job.
At one point, Linda Mangano’s Garden City-based defense attorney, John Carman, noted that she told the agents she did the “fluffy pretty stuff” for Singh, without explanation. In his filing, Carman argued: “Should Linda Mangano be allowed to know whether the government will attempt to prove that she did not do the ‘fluffy pretty stuff’?”
Singh was charged in 2015 on a 13-count indictment accusing him of paying a bribe to a former Oyster Bay deputy town attorney to get the indirect guarantee of more than $20 million in loans for his businesses, including food concessions he ran at town beaches and a town golf course. Singh has pleaded not guilty.
Many of the motions filed by the Manganos’ and Venditto’s attorneys have similar requests, asking, for example, that the three be tried separately because the case against one could unfairly taint the jurors’ opinions regarding the others.
Both Venditto and Mangano have asked that some of the charges linking them together in a conspiracy to commit various schemes should be thrown out because prosecutors have improperly connected two different alleged bribery schemes, according to the filings.
Venditto’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo of Manhattan, argued, for example, that his client had nothing to do with Mangano’s allegedly having the county award Singh a contract to supply bread to the county jail or supply food to county relief workers during superstorm Sandy.
“The Government, when presented with the opportunity to make contrary arguments, made no argument and offered no facts. This silence speaks volumes,” Agnifilo wrote in a brief. “The Government is silent on this critical point because plainly Venditto had no role in the Nassau County contracts scheme.”
The government has argued that the Nassau contracts were part of the overall conspiracy that both men engaged in.
In the most recent defense motion, filed two weeks ago, Agnifilo, in response to the securities-fraud charges against Venditto, said his client had done no wrong, as he has previously argued against the other charges brought by prosecutors.
Venditto and the Manganos were originally indicted in October 2016; the government added securities fraud charges against only Venditto in November last year.
Agnifilo contended that the loan guarantees, which underlie the securities fraud charges, were drafted with the approval of a number of lawyers and town officials so it is unfair to single out his client in those charges.
The government’s case is “the equivalent of blaming him [alone] if a pothole was filled in the wrong way,” Agnifilo said in an interview.
In another example, attorney Kevin Keating of Garden City, who represents Edward Mangano, challenged one government theory that his client had been, in effect, an official of the Town of Oyster Bay and, therefore, involved in the loan scheme. Legally speaking, such arguments are “ridiculous” because Mangano was not an Oyster Bay official, Keating said.
Federal prosecutors had said in previous filings “the ‘constituents’ of the Town of Oyster Bay are Mangano’s own constituents; they are, simply, a subset of Mangano’s own constituents of all Nassau County residents.”
According to prosecutors, even if the judge were to agree with this part of the defense’s argument, Edward Mangano could still be prosecuted under some other theory for an alleged role in the bond scheme, such as aiding and abetting the guaranteeing of the Singh loans.
Carman, Linda Mangano’s attorney, included as part of his pretrial motion the government-prepared summaries of the three 2015 interviews she had with FBI agents and federal prosecutors.
He argued it was unfair to give him the FBI reports without telling him which remarks by Linda Mangano were supposedly false statements she was charged with making.
According to the summaries, Linda Mangano also said that before being hired by Singh she did public relations work for school districts and local villages on a “case by case” basis for $1,000 a month.
John Marzulli, a spokesman for Eastern District prosecutors Catherine Mirabile, Lara Treinis Gatz and Raymond Tierney, declined to comment for this story.