A judge has issued an immunity order requiring former Oyster Bay Town Attorney Leonard Genova to testify in the upcoming federal corruption case of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and former town Supervisor John Venditto, court records show.
The disclosure of the Jan. 9 order was part of paperwork filed Friday in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission matter connected to Genova and Oyster Bay.
The court’s immunity order specifies that Genova provide testimony “regarding conduct relating to certain matters alleged” in an SEC complaint.
An immunity order means an individual must testify if called as a witness and can’t invoke a Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate oneself — but also won’t face prosecution if admitting any related crimes.
Nicholas Gravante Jr., Genova’s attorney, said on Monday that Genova had been interviewed by the government, speaking several times with both the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the SEC.
Both the SEC’s case against Genova, a civil matter, and the criminal case against Mangano and Venditto and Mangano’s wife, Linda, involve Oyster Bay indirectly guaranteeing more than $20 million in private loans for a concessionaire. The three defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Federal prosecutors have alleged the Manganos and Venditto were part of a scheme in which the elected officials helped concessionaire Harendra Singh get the indirect loan guarantees and government contracts in exchange for kickbacks and a $450,000 no-show job for Linda Mangano.
Genova, 54, last week agreed to settle the SEC’s fraud case against him. A civil complaint had alleged he, Venditto and others helped a concessionaire get indirect loan guarantees and then concealed them from investors in Oyster Bay’s securities offerings.
Genova agreed to permanent injunctions “against violating the charged securities laws or participating in any offerings of municipal securities.” Gravante previously said Genova agreed not to contest the allegations for the purposes of the settlement, but wasn’t admitting anything in the complaint.
Attorneys familiar with the use of immunity orders said prosecutors sometimes seek immunity for a potential witness – usually after extensive negotiations with that person’s attorney – if that person provides information helpful to their case. Other times, the government comes to cooperation agreements whereby a potential witness agrees to plead guilty and testify for the government in exchange for a favorable sentencing recommendation.
Lawyers who deal with such matters also said that, generally speaking, prosecutors sometimes decide to seek immunity instead of pursuing cooperation agreements if a witness helps their case early on, or if the proof of wrongdoing against that person is more marginal.
Two figures central to the prosecution’s case, Singh and former town deputy attorney Frederick Mei, previously entered secret guilty pleas in the case – as recently disclosed in court papers.
Singh agreed to cooperate against the defendants when pleading guilty to bribing Edward Mangano and Venditto and trying to bribe New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who wasn’t charged. Court documents also recently showed that Mei, who pleaded guilty to honest services fraud, wore an FBI wire for months.
Edward Mangano has been charged with conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud and extortion. His wife has been charged with making false statements, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Venditto is charged with conspiracy, bribery, securities fraud, wire fraud, making false statements and obstruction of justice.
Attorneys for the Manganos declined to comment Monday, as did a U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman. Venditto’s attorney couldn’t be immediately reached.