Jurors began deliberating Wednesday at close to 9:30 a.m. in the federal corruption trial of former Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, his wife, Linda, and former Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto.
By 10 a.m., defendants, lawyers, family, friends and reporters were hanging out in the hallway outside U.S. District Judge Joan M. Azrack’s courtroom.
At one point in the late morning, a group of students filed by, on their way to a program in the courtroom further down the hall. Occasionally, an escort would ask the group to, “shush, shush.” But their excitement managed to mute the tension of waiting for the jury’s decision.
Sometimes, after one group or another moved toward Azrack’s courtroom, many of those in the hallway — like falling dominoes — would begin moving too.
“Is there a note?”
“Is there a note?”
The question came from multiple people, multiple times as the afternoon wore on.
Then, at 2:29 p.m., a note came from the jury foreman.
It was the longest note the court had received over four days of deliberation.
It also marked the first time jurors sought parts of testimony from any witness who cooperated with the government in return for their testimony.
The foreman asked for a portion from 13 days of testimony from Harendra Singh, the prosecution’s first witness. The testimony related to video recorded by County Exec. Cam 5, which was placed at the Mangano home in Bethpage after Edward Mangano took office.
Jurors wanted to see clips, one from January 2015 and two from May of that year.
They also asked for transcripts of Singh’s testimony related to those clips, which show FBI agents, Mangano, Singh, Linda Mangano and an attorney, in various groupings, going into and out of the home.
The jury, many carrying coats, watched the clips in the courtroom.
Several took notes.
As for the transcripts, they will be delivered Thursday, as the jury begins is fifth day of deliberations.
“Nice to see you, Mr. Carman,” Azrack said brightly as she looked out at Linda Mangano’s attorney, John Carman, who on Tuesday was away from court for a daughter’s graduation from law school.
“Nice to be here,” Carman replied just as brightly.
Last Friday, Carman was away for the college graduation of another daughter.
But while Carman managed a short getaway with family, Venditto’s lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, wasn’t so lucky.
In the hallway, he showed reporters a photograph his family sent from Barbados, where they were vacationing sans Agnifilo.
In the photo, the family is smiling.
Well they should be: They’re on a boat, with a blue sky behind them.
“We’ve got something to show, too,” Agnifilo said.
He showed a second photo, the one he sent back to Barbados.
It was him, and his law partner, Joshua Kirshner, and, in the middle, Venditto, inside the courtroom.
The three were smiling, too.
Donald Trump, who was on Long Island Wednesday, visited the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage, site of Nassau’s Office of Emergency Management, which came up during the Mangano/Venditto trial.
Prosecutors say Edward Mangano steered a food contract from one vendor to Singh in the days after 2012’s superstorm Sandy. The defense contends Mangano had nothing to do with the contract for Singh, whose restaurant H.R. Singleton’s was one of the few in the area with power following the storm.
In testimony, Butch Yamali, head of The Dover Group, had said he thought his firm would get the contract, in part because he had a contract to provide food service at Nassau County buildings.
Kevin Keating, Edward Mangano’s attorney, during cross examination had questioned Yamali about whether the homeland security center, which at the time was privately owned, was a county facility or not.
On Tuesday, jurors in the Mangano/Venditto trial requested transcripts of testimony from Yamali and the firm’s executive chef.
In 2017, during Mangano’s second term, Nassau agreed to purchase the property for about $6.4 million.
Which meant, that on Thursday, Trump visited a Nassau County building.
When worlds collide IV
During Tuesday’s Oyster Bay Town board meeting, Supervisor Joseph Saladino talked about town-backed loans for Singh.
“I am here only 15 months,” he said, twice, before reading from a statement — or so it seemed from a video review of the meeting.
“It is our responsibility to defend the town and defend the taxpayers,” Saladino went on, launching into an explanation of loans that, according to trial testimony, were supported by town board members and other former town officials beginning in 2010.
“It is our position that these loans are fraudulent,” Saladino said, referring specifically to the third of five town-backed loans. “ . . . We have not spent a dollar on repaying on any of these loans,” he said later. “And we will not.”
Saladino referred to a federal-court decision — which Judge Azrack did not allow into evidence during the Mangano/Venditto trial — in a civil case in which one loan was deemed invalid because it was not approved by the town board.
Meanwhile, there are civil suits also pending in state courts; all of them have been stayed until the Mangano/Venditto trial is complete.
The Oyster Bay Town attorney or some other town representative attended much of the federal trial.
Multiple witnesses testified that town officials knew about the loans, and that those officials relied on a town board resolution — drafted deliberately in vague terms — to justify their support of the loans. Witnesses also testified that creditors and former town officials considered the indirect guarantees to be ironclad.
In addition, Leonard Genova, the town’s former deputy supervisor, testified that he and other town officials attempted to scapegoat former deputy town attorney Frederick Mei as part of an attempted cover-up. During cross examination, Venditto’s attorney, Marc Agnifilo, had hammered at the credibility of both witnesses, who testified under agreements with the government.
During Tuesday’s town board meeting, a resident asked whether Oyster Bay intended to sue Genova, who testified he had never read contracts before he signed them.
“All of these issues are being considered by our legal team,” Saladino said.
When world collide V
On Tuesday, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat, issued an executive order establishing a new county procurement officer and a requiring Nassau to track contracts from the time departments request the work.
The change, she said, was aimed at preventing corruption.
Twice now, Nassau contracts have become fodder for prosecutors in corruption-related trials.
On Wednesday, jurors in the Mangano/Venditto trial continued deliberating on charges that touch on county contracts awarded to Singh and his wife, Ruby.
Next month, Dean Skelos, a former state Senate majority leader, is slated for retrial on federal charges that Skelos, a Rockville Centre Reublican, leveraged his power in Albany to get jobs and fees for his son, Adam, from a developer, a malpractice insurer and AbTech, a storm water firm awarded a contract by Nassau.
After Skelos and his son were convicted in 2015, Mangano put some contracting changes into place. The county took another bite at reform after a series of Newsday reports about holes in the process that allowed the Mangano administration to award multiple personal service contracts to be let with no legislative scrutiny.
The Skeloses have pleaded not guilty.
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