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Power on Trial: Closing arguments

Kevin Keating, Edward Mangano's lawyer, talks to John

Kevin Keating, Edward Mangano's lawyer, talks to John Venditto and Edward Mangano outside federal court in Central Islip on Tuesday. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Neither snow nor sickness . . .

At 9:25 a.m. Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack welcomed jurors into her courtroom.

“Good morning,” she said, brightly, “and it IS morning.”

Several jurors and court spectators at the corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto and Mangano’s wife, Linda, chuckled. One day earlier, Azrack had bidden them good morning in the afternoon — after jurors had waited hours to be called into the courtroom.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond A. Tierney on Tuesday also began his closing argument by talking to jurors about their time in court.

“Thank you for your service as jurors,” Tierney said, noting that the group had been through “three snowstorms, rampant sickness, trial status delays,” as well as sometimes uncomfortable courtroom temperatures.

He said nothing about the trial’s length, which has stretched from the anticipated eight weeks to 10.

PowerPoint

After Tierney’s summations, which took more than three hours, Kevin Keating, the attorney for Edward Mangano, took his turn with the jury.

Unknown to Keating, the prosecution’s final slide, headed “Accomplice Liability” which included the bullet points “Aiding and abetting liability,” “Co-conspirator liability” and “Venditto response for wires used by investors, rating agencies and fiscal advisers,” remained projected on the screen behind him.

There it stayed — until Edward Mangano, from the defendant’s table, pointed it out to his other attorney, Matthew Brissenden. Brissenden walked over to Tierney, who stood and walked over to a computer, at which point the screen went blank.

Then the slide popped up a second time.

At which point Tierney walked over to a laptop and closed the lid.

The slide did not pop up again.

Summary sheets

Two of Tierney’s slides detailed and put a price on bribes Mangano and Venditto allegedly accepted from Singh.

In one of them, labeled “Mangano’s Bribes,” prosecutors alleged that Singh gifted Mangano with a $450,000 no-show job for his wife; a $3623.73 massage chair; a $3,371.90 office chair; numerous free meals and reduced-price functions; $47,058.24 in vacation-related costs; $7,350 for a Panerai Luminor watch for one of the Manganos’ sons; and $4,105 for wooden flooring and installation in the Manganos’ bedroom.

That totaled at least $515,508.87, though the slide didn’t do the math.

The “Venditto’s Bribes” slide alleged that Venditto received $11,370.38 in limo rides for himself and his family and friends; free use of Singh’s conference room and free meals for himself and his family; free or discounted political events at Singh’s restaurants for himself and his son, Michael Venditto; and $30,000 annually for the supervisor’s golf event, which was financed by Singh.

The lack of specific estimated costs and the number of years prosecutors allege that Singh paid for the Supervisor’s Golf Outing, a popular event that was free to Oyster Bay residents, make it impossible to calculate a total beyond the limousine rides.

The PowerPoint presentation in an of itself, as part of prosecution arguments, is not considered to be evidence.

But, as Tierney pointed out to jurors, information about the alleged bribes introduced at trial is.

Sleeping dogs

It didn’t take Keating long to attack Singh’s credibility.

He told jurors that Singh told 400 lies while on the witness stand.

“The guy lied over and over again,” Keating said.

He told jurors that he did not intend to read them all back from the transcript. If he did, “You would leave the jury box and run home.”

“That man,” he went on, “desecrated the oath and defiled it, over and over again.”

The gang’s all here

After weeks of testimony about bank loans and allegations of securities-related fraud, the courtroom spectator section during prosecution arguments filled up once more — to the point where court security officers began sending spectators to an overflow courtroom.

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue sat in the front row, on the prosecution side of the room. Jonathan Sinnreich, outside counsel for the Town of Oyster Bay, who was a prosecution witness in the trial, sat in the back row on the same side.

Sinnreich heard Tierney tell jurors about emails Sinnreich sent to Oyster Bay officials, warning them about the idea of town-backed loans.

“He is the first guy who says ‘What are you doing? What are we doing? It is a very bad idea,’” Tierney said, summarizing Sinnreich’s view.

By the time Keating began his argument, however, neither Sinnreich nor Donoghue were in the courtroom.

Keating reminded jurors of Sinnreich’s testimony in which he discussed his first meeting with Oyster Bay officials.

It was at Singh’s H.R. Singletons restaurant. And officials were talking to Singh about his plans for a bid he had yet to win.

Sinnreich said he felt uncomfortable, and left.

Nevertheless, Keating told jurors Tuesday, Sinnreich had signed on to work for the town.

Name game, remixed

Keating and Tierney kept the courtroom entertained Tuesday with nicknames for witnesses.

Leonard Genova, Oyster Bay’s former town attorney, became Immunity Leonard Genova — because he received full immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony for prosecutors, Keating said.

Edward Mangano and several of his deputies, including Rob Walker, Mangano’s former chief deputy, became “Ed Mangano and his cronies,” Tierney said.

Keating dubbed Frederick Mei, Oyster Bay’s former deputy town attorney, and Singh, who has pleaded guilty to bribing him, “Burner phone buddies” — because at one point they used burner phones to talk to each other as the federal investigation was going on.

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