Nassau police found no evidence that County Executive Edward Mangano exchanged sexually suggestive text messages with a marketing executive and have concluded they were a “hoax.”
Investigators examined cellphones belonging to Mangano and Karin Murphy Caro of Hauppauge-based BluChip Marketing and determined the devices weren’t hacked, Det. Sgt. Patrick Ryder announced Thursday.
“It’s a hoax,” said Ryder, the lead investigator in the probe and commanding officer of the Asset Forfeiture and Intelligence Unit. “The evidence that I have, and the investigation that I did shows that Mr. Mangano and Mrs. Caro did not sext each other. ... As far as I’m concerned, the sexting case is closed.”
If anyone comes forward with information on the source of the hoax, Ryder said he would reopen the case.
The detective said he consulted with the FBI and Nassau district attorney’s office in the interest of “transparency” and stressed the investigation was “independent” of Mangano and Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, who reports directly to Mangano.
Mangano declined interview requests Thursday but issued a statement after the police announcement.
“As I stated from the moment this matter was brought to my attention, my family and I are the victims of a hoax perpetuated by a deranged individual,” he said. “I can only hope that the media will report the truth in the same manner as they reported the outrageous lies against me and the other victim. Now, I respectfully ask that you leave my family and me alone on this matter.”
Mangano initiated the investigation by filing a “criminal complaint,” which police later acknowledged was a verbal request, claiming his phone was hacked on Feb. 4 — the same day a WCBS-TV reporter showed him a sheet of paper with a cut- and-paste of the graphic texts and a tweet from Caro. The station’s report aired Feb. 13.
On Thursday, Ryder said the document was “fabricated” and “could have been created by anyone with an agenda.”
Rachel Ferguson, a WCBS spokeswoman, declined to comment.
Ryder said investigators interviewed Mangano, Caro and Mangano’s three-person police security detail, and searched Mangano and Caro’s Twitter accounts and cellphones — and found no evidence of communication between the pair.
Mangano’s campaign iPhone is the phone number that was purportedly connected with the texts, and Ryder said it’s the county executive’s only cellphone.
Asked at the news conference whether Mangano and Caro could have communicated using other phones, Ryder replied: “Could she have another phone? Absolutely. Anybody could, and anybody could be lying to me.”
Caro — who has been awarded two county contracts worth $48,500 and is “going through a bitter divorce,” according to Ryder — did not respond to messages seeking comment. After the news conference, she tweeted simply: “Thank you.” Her attorney also did not respond.
Nassau police spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun declined to comment when asked how many hours were spent investigating the hoax and at what cost to taxpayers.
But Ryder said: “I think I’ve wasted enough time already searching into this sexting scandal and I think I need to get back to what we do — fighting crime and going after the terrorists.”
The results of the investigation were announced two days after police briefed the Nassau district attorney’s office on its findings. The office has subpoenaed the county for Caro’s no-bid contracts, sources have said.
“We received preliminary findings from the police department late Tuesday afternoon and continue to offer our investigative assistance on this matter,” Shams Tarek, a spokesman for District Attorney Madeline Singas, said in a statement. “Our review of the procurement of contracts in Nassau County is ongoing.”
Ryder rejected questions suggesting his investigation wasn’t rigorous because he didn’t seek subpoenas, file a complaint, case report or deposition. He said he never files that paperwork when conducting probes into elected officials.
But the absence of a formal complaint raised questions over whether police wanted to help Mangano avoid possible legal issues if he had participated in any wrongdoing — such as filing a false police report, sources said.
“I was handed this bag of crap,” Ryder said of the case. “I know there are no winners here. ... I was brought up to tell the truth. ... I don’t get involved in the politics.”
When he interviewed Mangano at his Bethpage home on Valentine’s Day, Ryder said he told the county executive: “If you are lying to me and something is proven later, I will be the guy that walks in and puts the handcuffs on you, no problem.”
He said Mangano “looked me in the eye and he swore to me: ‘I am not involved with that woman or any of those sex messages.’ ”
With Paul LaRocco