A federal judge has scheduled a hearing in January to determine if the corruption convictions of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his wife Linda should be thrown out because of a defense claim that a key government witness in their case committed perjury.
The witness, former restaurateur Harendra Singh, a longtime friend of the Manganos, who eventually cooperated with federal prosecutors, is scheduled to be cross-examined by the government and defense attorneys at the hearing about his previous testimony in both the Manganos’ trial and a later unrelated civil case.
Defense attorneys for the Manganos alleged that Singh told contradictory stories during his testimony at the Manganos’ trial and in a civil case.
U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack had originally scheduled the Singh hearing for Dec. 21 and Dec. 22, but canceled it last week because of the coronavirus epidemic limiting on-site proceedings at the federal court in Central Islip.
On Tuesday, Azrack issued an order rescheduling the hearing for Jan. 26 and Jan. 27, saying it would be held in the courthouse’s ceremonial courtroom, which is the largest in the building and can hold 200 people.
The Manganos were convicted in March 2019 after a seven-week trial involving an alleged scheme in which the former County Executive helped Singh get $20 million in indirect loan guarantees for the town of Oyster Bay.
In return, Singh gave the Manganos bribes, including a $454,000 "no-show" job for Linda Mangano, free meals and vacations, two luxury chairs, wood flooring for their bedroom, and a $7,300 wristwatch for one of their sons, according to prosecutors.
In their motion to overturn the convictions, however, defense attorneys said that Singh apparently testified in the unrelated civil trial that Edward Mangano was not involved in the Oyster Bay scheme.
In the civil trial in Nassau County Supreme Court, Singh was suing two former business associates for allegedly failing to pay him $1.2 million for a part of his concession to run the Woodlands, a Town of Oyster Bay event space.
Defense attorneys said that in the civil case, Singh was asked whether his own plea in the Manganos criminal case was related to the loan scheme, and he replied, "I do not believe so," and, also said that his bribing Mangano "had nothing to do with the Town of Oyster Bay."
In response, federal prosecutors said in court papers that the Manganos' defense attorneys misrepresented the context of Singh’s testimony, and their argument "fails as it rest exclusively upon select snippets of Singh’s [civil] deposition that are mischaracterized."
A jury in March 2019 found Edward Mangano guilty of conspiracy to commit federal program bribery, federal program bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud and conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice.
Linda Mangano was convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and two counts of making false statements to the FBI.
Linda Mangano’s attorney, John Carman, of Garden City, said Tuesday: "The federal system is affected by the coronavirus. We accept it for what it is." The attorney for Edward Mangano, Kenneth Keating, could not be reached immediately for comment.
John Marzulli, spokesman for Eastern District federal prosecutors Catherine Mirabile, Lara Treinis Gatz, and Christopher Caffarone, declined to comment.