They came by car, subway or Long Island Rail Road train, but the parties managed to gather together at the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn — rather than the usual venue, the U.S. District Courthouse in Central Islip — for a pretrial hearing Wednesday in the retrial of Edward Mangano and his wife, Linda.
Judge Joan Azrack, who has courtrooms in both locations, chose the Brooklyn site to address last-minute business before jury selection is slated to begin in Central Islip next week.
Wednesday’s hearing was supposed to begin at 10 a.m.
But there was a slight delay — until Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz, who had opted for the train, made her way to the courtroom.
The Manganos and their defense attorneys sat in a row on the left side of a rectangular table perpendicular to the judge. Across from the defense, three federal prosecutors sat along the right side of the facing table. Two of them — Treinis Gatz and Assistant U.S. Attorney Catherine Mirabile — had presented the government’s case in Mangano’s first corruption-related trial earlier this year.
They have been joined by Christopher Cafferone, who replaced a third member of the original prosecution team.
In the spectator benches, familiar faces abounded as well.
Edward Mangano’s mom and dad came to the hearing. So did Linda Mangano’s best friend, who had shown up to support her each and every day during Trial One earlier this year.
Seated across the room, on the prosecutor’s side, were two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, veterans from the first trial, too.
There will be no mention of a "first trial" during the Mangano retrial.
Instead, after hearing from both sides. Azrack said the first trial would be called “a prior proceeding.”
John Carman, Linda Mangano’s attorney, expressed doubt the moniker would work.
“There’s going to be an elephant in the room,” he said. “We have basically just had Long Island’s Trial of the Century.”
“You can call it a 'prior proceeding' all day long,” he went on, but jurors, “unless they were asleep, they’ll know" there was a first trial.
The prosecution rests
Azrack also was asked to determine whether two former assistant U.S. attorneys, along with a third, former Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko — who prosecutors said had recently rejoined the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District — simply should be called “prosecutors,” rather than former assistant U.S. attorneys.
Edward Mangano’s attorney, Kevin Keating, didn’t like that one.
He argued that the exact description was important in describing the relationship between the former prosecutors and Harendra Singh, the prosecution’s star witness the last time around.
Singh having had such prestigious friends, Keating argued, would bolster Mangano’s defense that he had no idea that Singh — who has pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including bribery — was involved in anything illegal.
Keating noted that Singh, in corresponding with one former assistant U.S. attorney, had repeatedly referred to him as his “best friend.”
“He’s got a lot of best friends, as I recall,” Azrack said dryly.