After listening to hundreds of hours of testimony, jurors will finally begin deliberations Friday in the federal corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, his wife, Linda, and former Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto.
Prosecutors on Thursday afternoon wrapped up 10 weeks of testimony and arguments in Central Islip, where they sought to make the case that Edward Mangano and Venditto accepted an illegal stream of benefits from restaurateur Harendra Singh and, in exchange, abused their public positions to get him two county contracts and more than $20 million in town-guaranteed loans.
Throughout the trial, U.S. District Court Judge Joan M. Azrack had forbidden jurors to talk about the case among themselves until all evidence and arguments had been presented and she had given them the “charge,” or instructions on how to properly deliberate.
On Thursday afternoon, she spent more than two hours giving those instructions to them, reading aloud from 54 pages explaining the law and each charge the defendants face.
Before that, the jury heard closing arguments from the lawyers in the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Mirabile said that Singh over the years was a “partner in crime” to Mangano and Venditto and that “corruption, power and greed” drove the trio.
She rejected defense attorneys’ assertions that Singh told lies as a prosecution witness to save himself from prison.
“He’s not our guy; he’s their guy,” Mirabile said.
Mangano had a close friendship with Singh that spanned 25 years and Venditto kept Singh on as a town concessionaire for decades, the prosecutor noted.
Mirabile in her rebuttal pushed back on closing arguments by lawyers for the Manganos and Venditto who called Singh a “sociopath” and a “liar.”
As she spoke, a photograph of Edward Mangano and Singh posing together in the waters of the Turks and Caicos was projected onto a large screen before the jury.
“The sociopath liar is on vacation with this guy!” Mirabile exclaimed, pointing to Mangano at the defense table.
Earlier Thursday, Venditto’s defense attorney, Marc Agnifilo of Manhattan, finished his closing argument.
He asked that jurors bear in mind three “silver bullets” that he argued drove holes into the prosecutors’ case, including the forging of Venditto’s signature on the paperwork for one of Singh’s town-guaranteed loans.
“John Venditto is innocent,” Agnifilo said. “He is innocent. We’re not hiding behind a burden of proof. He is innocent.”
Singh, who testified in the first four weeks of the trial, said his bribes to Mangano and Venditto included free vacations for the Mangano family, a no-show job for Linda Mangano that paid $450,000 and free limousine services for Venditto and his inner circle.
Edward Mangano, 56, of Bethpage, and Venditto, 68, of North Massapequa, face numerous charges that include federal program bribery and honest-services wire fraud.
Mangano is also fighting extortion and conspiracy to obstruct justice charges, and Venditto additionally is charged with securities fraud and 19 counts of wire fraud related to securities offerings.
Linda Mangano, 54, of Bethpage, faces charges of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and three counts of making false statements to the FBI.
They have pleaded not guilty.
After court Thursday, Linda Mangano’s attorney, John Carman of Garden City, said his client has “shown strength for her husband and for her family through this.” He said he hoped for a “conscientious and thoughtful deliberation.”
Kevin Keating of Garden City, who represents Edward Mangano, expressed confidence in a favorable outcome and said his client “believes in the system.”
Venditto’s lawyer, Agnifilo, said his client is “strong and confident and hopeful” and added that as jury deliberations start: “It’s in God’s hands.”